Our Feeding Services
“Our Goal is to help families, one bite at a time.”
Whether your child has a diagnosed feeding or swallowing disorder, you notice your child is a very fussy eater or mealtimes are causing a significant level of stress for you and your family, Lively Eaters is able to help.
To learn more about the services we provide, click on the links below:
Feeding assessments are carried out in the Lively Eaters Centre at Evandale or via Teletherapy. Initial assessments include comprehensive evaluation and assessment of:
- Your child’s feeding, medical and developmental history
- Current challenges/difficulties related to feeding and feeding behaviours
- Your child’s current feeding capacity (tube or oral), mealtime and/or eating skills (including oral motor, oral structures, oral sensory, gross & fine motor)
- Your child’s response to new or non-preferred foods
- Your child’s response to strategies/techniques/feeding equipment
- How your family interacts around food and mealtimes
Recommendations are provided on the day of the assessment, followed by a full written report, so that home follow up can occur.
Therapists will also be able to carry out a clinical assessment of babies/children who are at risk of aspiration and refer to appropriate medical services if deemed necessary. Breast and bottle feeding assessments are undertaken by our experienced Speech Pathologists who have additional training in infant breast/bottle feeding and tongue tethering.
FAMILY FOCUSSED FEEDING THERAPY
Therapy sessions and ongoing follow up is negotiated with the family at the time of the initial assessment and re-evaluated as progress is made. Therapy sessions are carried out at the Lively Eaters clinic rooms, your child’s home, school or childcare as negotiated and as deemed appropriate. The frequency and number of sessions will depend on the severity of the eating/feeding difficulty, your child’s response to strategies and techniques and the amount of home follow up.
With a dynamic and highly skilled team at Lively Eaters it may be appropriate to move between different therapists at different times depending on progress and challenges. This seamless transition is important to ensure that the needs of the child and family at any one given time, are being met.
A range of different feeding approaches are incorporated into the child and family’s individual therapy plan. Therapists are trained in a range of therapies including the ‘Division of Responsibility’ (Ellyn Satter), Wilbarger Therapressure Program and Oral Tactile Technique, SOS approach (Sequential Oral Sensory Approach to Feeding), The Fun with Food Programme (Arlene McCurtin), Mealtime Matters (Gillian Griffiths), Sensational Mealtimes (Dr Denise Stapleton & Gillian Griffiths), sensory processing approaches (Winnie Dunn, Gen Jereb), Circle of Security, Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS), use of visual strategies, and DIR Floortime. Coupled with many years of experience working with children with a range of developmental, intellectual and behavioural challenges (as well as typically developing children!!) all therapists work to integrate practical and realistic therapy goals and strategies to assist your family.
FOOD EXPLORERS & HOLIDAY EXPLORERS
These vibrant groups utilise individual children’s sensory and food specificities to develop, create and cook specially chosen recipes. Facilitated by the Lively Eaters Occupational Therapists and Speech Pathologists, a range of sensory, exploration and hands-on strategies are incorporated into these cooking groups.
Children continue to surprise at the end of the group when they are keen to engage with foods in a variety of new ways, which they have never engaged with previously.
Please speak with your Lively Eaters therapist or contact Reception to determine whether our Food Explorer or Holiday Explorers programs would be beneficial for your child.
‘VENTURE OUT’ INTENSIVE THERAPY PROGRAM
The Lively Eaters Venture Out therapy program is designed to help children with restrictive eating behaviours learn to ‘venture out’ – outside of their comfort zone, outside of their food choices and outside of the environments they are used to eating in. It also supports parents and siblings to learn to ‘venture out’ as well – because we know that often the family mealtime experience is impacted by a selective eater and parents can become scared to upset what’s working for their child, even if it’s not working for their family.
The program is an intensive, individualised and holistic approach to mealtime behaviours, expectations, family dynamics and factors which are impacting on a child’s ability to progress with their feeding. Each program is developed individually and specifically for your child and your family as we respect that your family unit is unique and feeding therapy can not be a ‘one size fits all’ approach.
The therapists involved in the intensives are highly skilled at observing, interpreting and understanding how a child responds to food and mealtimes, how the family respond to these behaviours and how together this impacts on the mealtime dynamic. Through our intensive residential program these challenges are addressed with the family, without the everyday pressures of school, appointments, work and all other factors which make mealtimes more challenging.
Our Venture Out program operates either within your child’s home (local families) or rented accommodation in Adelaide (interstate families). Our highly experienced Feeding Therapists support your family throughout the week long program.
Children must attend for an initial assessment (either via Teletherapy or in clinic) before consideration into this program will be made. Typically children whose feeding skills have ‘plateaued’ or for whom there are many influential environmental factors, benefit greatly from this intensive and highly supported approach.
INTENSIVE TUBE WEANING PROGRAM
Utilising the ‘Lively Approach’ this innovative program is the only private research based program of its kind in Australia. Weaning children from naso-gastric or PEG feeding is carried out within our intensive inter-disciplinary therapy program which operates at The Memorial Hospital (North Adelaide). Our experienced therapy and medical team provide an individualised, holistic approach to tube weaning children Australia wide and internationally – all within a medically monitored and extremely well supported environment.
Lively Eaters Feeding Therapists (Speech Pathologists, Dietitians, Occupational Therapists, Parent-Child therapist) and Paediatrician are experienced at addressing the many issues and concerns which arise around the mealtime environment and a child’s behavioural response to learning to eat orally. The intensive week is one component of the weaning journey which often takes place over many months prior and post the inpatient component.
We strongly encourage all family members to be active participants during the weaning process. The duration of the in-patient stay will be negotiated for each individual child dependent on their needs and all families are followed up to ensure ongoing success with oral eating and drinking. Children must be deemed suitable for this service by Emily Lively following an initial assessment and responses to therapy sessions.
NUTRITION & DIETARY CONSULTATION
Our Dietitians provide a range of services both in the clinic, via Teletherapy and through the intensive program. If you have concerns with your child’s diet, allergies, nutritional status or growth you may benefit from an initial consult.
For enterally/tube fed children, our Dietitians are very experienced with the complications and difficulties that are often experienced by tube fed children. We work towards making tube feeding as functional ,practical and successful as it can be, including the use of blenderised diets.
Our Dietitians play a very important role in the journey for children from tube to oral feeding. They are actively involved in all steps of the process from pre-wean, during the wean and post-wean to ensure nutrition goals are achievable and realistic.
For many of our Challenging Eaters it is valuable to have a full diet analysis to determine if/where nutritional deficits may be. The Lively Eaters dietitian can recommend the best supplements to ‘fill the gap’ (if required) or give you piece of mind that your child is nutritionally complete. They provide invaluable advice to our team of experienced therapists on specific nutrition goals for your child’s therapy.
ORAL EATING AND DRINKING CARE PLANS
Children with additional mealtime support requirements or a compromised swallow will require an oral eating and drinking care plan (OEDCP) for them to attend childcare/ELC/school/vacation care.
Assessment, development and ongoing monitoring of the care plan can be arranged with one of our Speech Pathologists. Please phone our Support Services team to make an appointment.
Support for the relationship between child and parent and for the parent themselves
At Lively Eaters the emotional and behavioural elements of successful feeding are recognised and highly regarded as a key element in moving forward with successful eating. The parent-child relationship provides the base from which developmental tasks like feeding, sleeping and play emerge. This relationship provides the security and emotional support that helps children take the many small steps towards independent, self-regulated eating.
Many of the families that come to Lively Eaters have experienced early or traumatic births, lengthy hospitalisations, invasive medical procedures or confronting developmental diagnoses. Many of these experiences and the very nature of the diagnosed condition can throw the parent/child relationship “off track”. Adjusting to a medical/developmental diagnosis and managing complicated treatment regimens can be overwhelming and exhausting. Sometimes parents can come to feel more like a therapist than a parent.
Many children and parents, can lose trust that food can be safe and enjoyable. For some children food can come to be seen as something to avoid and resist and negative behaviours can quickly spiral. Mealtimes can come to be coloured by anxiety or conflict for both the child and parent.
The Child/Parent Therapist can help families to understand and rework the dynamics of mealtimes.
If this seems familiar or if you have experienced any of the difficulties listed below you may benefit from exploring this support.
- Difficult pregnancy, prematurity or traumatic birth
- Prolonged separation of mother and child
- Loss of early days in which to get to know your child, lengthy hospitalizations (over 2 weeks )
- Medical or developmental conditions that make understanding your child’s cues difficult
- Possible post trauma responses from invasive medical procedures or other events
- Artificial feeding like naso –gastric tubes or PEG tubes that seem hard to wean from
- Postnatal Depression or Anxiety
- Grief and Loss
- High levels of conflict or anxiety/withdrawl for any member of the family, loss of any enjoyment in mealtimes “dread, worry, anger” swirling around the family relationships.
It may be our recommendation that to be able to ‘move forward’ with successful feeding, support through our Parent/Child Therapist is one of the avenues which needs to be explored. A portion of these sessions can be rebated by Medicare through a Mental Health Care Plan, through Private Health insurance (Extras, Occupational Therapy cover) or under NDIS plans.
WORKSHOPS, TRAINING & PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT
Emily Lively (Director & Speech Pathologist) provides a range of parent and professional workshops and talks to:
- Childcare centres, Early Learning Centres, Kindergartens, Parent Groups
- Professionals – Dietitians, Speech Pathologists, Occupational Therapists, Social Workers, Psychologists, Medical practitioners, Nursing staff
- Messy, Fun Feeding – The Introduction of Solids (60 mins)
- Let’s Talk about Mealtimes – Typical and Fussy Eating Development and How to overcome mealtime challenges (90 mins)
- Inter-professionalism in Feeding Therapy (90 mins)
- Speech Pathologists role in Paediatric Feeding (60 mins)
- Enteral Tube Weaning – The family journey towards Oral Feeding (2 day workshop)
- Professional Mentoring