How Much Does Feeding Therapy Cost?
The lives of many families with children, struggling with food problems, have been changed for the better through feeding therapy.
Children who do not develop properly as a result of highly demanding diets or those who have been diagnosed with sensory processing disorder may benefit from feeding therapy.
What is feeding therapy?
Feeding therapy is the process by which a therapist counsels a child to try foods on their own, without being forced into any way by their parents.
Feeding therapy, similar to occupational therapy, helps children with feeding difficulties due to sensory integration problems, autism, behavior problems, and other unresolved or undiagnosed needs.
Moreover, addressing your child’s feeding problems early only benefits your child’s future food associations, behaviors, and physical growth.
If you intervene early, you can prevent or eliminate:
- concerns about growth
- difficulty in swallowing
- poor eating habits
- negative behavior at mealtime
The Cost of Feeding Therapy
The cost of feeding therapy is of course a big concern for most parents. Most therapists charge around $300 for the initial evaluation and then about $230 – $280 per feeding session. A feeding session may last between 1 hour and 2 hours, depending on the child’s needs and the therapist.
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Depending on the child’s medical needs, most families with insurance pay $20 up to $50 per feeding session.
There may be some additional costs that will be discussed with you before the sessions begin, as follows:
- Home visits, school, and preschool visits, which include travel fees;
- Reports for third parties: letters to supplement general practitioner referrals to specialists, school feeding management plans;
- Online calls with families or other therapists and professionals;
Pediatric Feeding Therapy Techniques
Most feeding therapy sessions occur during occupational therapy as part of the therapy process for sensory processing disorder. It can be done in a center, in a doctor’s office, in a hospital, or even in a medical office.
Through occupational therapy, your child’s therapist will be able to determine the trigger senses and gather more information by asking you about what the child likes, but also about what they do not like to eat.
Your doctor may then ask you to bring one or two types of food that your child will eat and one or two types of food your child won’t eat, at each therapy session. From there, the specialist will work through specific steps with the child in order to get him to try the food under his own conditions and without force.
Some of the steps in feeding therapy include:
- Looking at the food
- Sensing the smell of food
- Touching the food
- Tasting the food
- Licking the food
- Eating the food
Does my child need feeding therapy?
Children who need or may benefit from feeding therapy usually have one or more of the following developmental delays and/or feeding issues:
- Have birth injuries or congenital malformations;
- Manifest sensory disorders;
- Have traumatic injuries to the brain or spinal cord;
- Difficulty in learning to read and write;
- Suffer from autism or other developmental disorders;
- Have juvenile rheumatoid arthritis;
- Suffer from behavioral or mental health disorders;
- Have broken bones or other orthopedic injuries;
- Have recently undergone surgery;
- Have skin burns for various causes;
- Suffer from spina bifida;
- They have been confirmed with the diagnosis of cancer;
- Traumatic amputations;
- Suffer from multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, and other chronic diseases.
Feeding therapy needs are usually determined when the child has been diagnosed with a sensory processing disorder.
If your child has difficulty with texture, taste, smell, or temperature, in any combination, feeding problems may become obvious or worsen as they grow and/or are exposed to new foods.
Feeding difficulties are often the first sign that a child has sensory processing disorders because the eating process requires the use of multiple senses working together.
You may notice that your child’s nutrition and feeding habits are a cause for concern at a very young age. This could result in the need for further assessment in speech and language therapy and/or occupational therapy for sensory integration.
Early therapy sessions are ideal, so if you have concerns, talk to your child’s doctor or get a second opinion if you feel your concerns are not understood exactly.
You can also learn through speech and language therapy and/or occupational therapy that your child needs additional support in the form of feeding therapy.
To determine if your child needs feeding therapy, the pediatrician or therapist might suggest the following:
- Further evaluation by therapy;
- Studying how the child swallows his food;
- Observing food habits;
- Make a list of foods your child will eat and not eat, including how your child reacts to certain foods;
- Evaluation and opinions of other therapists working with your child.
Where can you find a feeding therapist?
In case your general practitioner doesn’t offer you any feeding therapy suggestions, you can look for help here:
- Children’s hospitals or clinics
- Private clinics
- Early intervention – it’s addressing kids under 3, even 5, all over the USA, and sessions take place at home. This type of therapy is free or mostly free, but you can always check the policies for your state.
- School – it’s not too common, but, if your child is in a school for special needs, feeding therapy is free.
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