The SOS method focuses on
the whole child, examining factors
that may be affecting mealtime.
Does your child struggle during mealtime avoiding eating a healthy variety of foods? Or has what started out as “picky eating” grown into a complete rejection of food with little interest in exploring new foods? Despite what other well-meaning individuals may tell you, this may not be a “behavior or obedience” issue, or just a phase your child will “grow out of”, but it may be the sign of underlying sensory or oral motor deficits affecting taste, chewing, manipulating food in the mouth, swallowing and ultimately digesting and absorbing nutrients. There are few things more frustrating to a parent that a child who won’t eat, but for many children who reject, struggle with or avoid food the problem can becomes magnified when well-meaning parents try to coerce, force or bribe their children to eat. They continue to resist eating foods they can’t tolerate, which over time can lead to poor nutrition and increased emotional stress for both parent and child. If this seems to be happening at your home, It may be time to consider a new method. The SOS method, considers your child’s resistance to be part of a much deeper problem that can be successfully addressed through greater understanding and appropriate intervention.
The SOS method
The SOS method focuses on understanding the whole child, carefully examining the environment as well as any outside factors that may be affecting him or her at mealtime. Your child may have a hard time with foods or eating because of a problem with texture, chewing or swallowing. Or it could be related to smells and tastes interfering with a pleasurable experience surrounding food. Even emotional attitudes about food can affect successful eating.
The SOS method first explores the whole child to determine what the root cause(s) of the problem with food are. Once the factors are known, they can be addressed in the most appropriate way. The SOS method adopts a sensory based, holistic approach to eating along with parent education regarding the root causes of the challenges and how they can help more successfully. Skilled therapists help the children explore food and successful eating following a playful “just right” challenge hierarchy.
What to expect during SOS
The SOS method is most successful when it is a whole-family effort. The therapists guide the child to explore and tolerate textures, developing his or her chewing and tasting skills with practice with success. At the same time his or her parents are learning too! The SOS method is not something that happens only in the clinic. Instead, it’s a routine put into effect at home as well, so that parents have successful tools and strategies they can use during mealtimes consistently.
When you and your child begin SOS therapy, foods are explored in new ways. New foods are introduced through play, in a way that they can experience the textures and smells along with feeling various foods. You can have discussions about your child’s feelings and experiences during meals as he or she learns and practices new skills for self-feeding. The therapy uses a practical, approach which first starts with tolerating food in the room and visually attending to food on a plate. It then progresses to smelling, touching, bringing food to the mouth in a playful and safe way with no added stress. Using food play as motivation, the therapist assists the child in slowly and comfortably exploring and trying new foods. This leads to tasting, chewing, then eventually swallowing the foods.
Results from the SOS method
The SOS method repeats the usual, expected path of development about eating, while promoting a positive experience. The more your child’s experience can match the way other kids eat, the greater success he or she will have in eating regular meals.
Further, the complete whole-child belief behind the method ensures that the reason for avoiding food is over. If your child struggles with feeding because of difficulty swallowing, underdeveloped eating and chewing, not liking the smell of food or something else, the SOS method will ensure these problems are redirected, retrained or repaired first.
If your child’s rejection of, or difficulty with, food has interfered with his or her proper nutrition, health and/or happiness, we’d love to help. Schedule an evaluation with our feeding team of SOS trained Occupational and Speech therapists at Integrative Pediatric Therapy to discuss your options. We can help children and families cope with food aversions, feeding sensitivities and underlying sensory processing concerns in a positive and productive way.