SOS Feeding Therapy (Sequential Oral Sensory)

Feeding challenges in children can be a source of major concern for parents and caregivers. The Sequential Oral Sensory (SOS feeding therapy) approach is a proven method to address these difficulties effectively. Developed by Dr. Kay Toomey, this holistic approach not only improves a child’s relationship with food but also aims to make mealtime a stress-free experience.

What is SOS Feeding Therapy?

SOS Feeding Therapy, which stands for Sequential Oral Sensory Feeding Therapy, is a specialized approach to help children with feeding and eating difficulties. The SOS Approach integrates sensory, motor, oral, behavioral/learning, medical, and nutritional factors to comprehensively assess and treat feeding issues. This therapy is particularly beneficial for children who have trouble progressing through the typical developmental steps of eating.

Unlike traditional feeding therapies that may focus solely on individual aspects of eating, such as oral motor skills or behavior modification, SOS Feeding Therapy examines the entire feeding process. This holistic perspective ensures that all elements that can contribute to a child’s feeding problems are taken into account. Through gradual exposure and positive reinforcement, children learn to accept and enjoy a variety of foods, reducing mealtime stress for both parents and children.

Parents and caregivers play a crucial role in the success of SOS Feeding Therapy by participating in therapy sessions and implementing strategies at home. The process begins with a thorough initial assessment, which helps to create an individualized treatment plan tailored to the specific needs of each child. As therapy progresses, regular tracking and adjustment ensure that the child continues to make gains and overcome feeding challenges.

  • Understanding the role of sensory input in feeding
  • Addressing oral motor skills in conjunction with sensory challenges
  • Utilizing a step-by-step approach to introduce new foods
  • Integrating behavioral strategies to encourage positive eating habits
  • Incorporating medical and nutritional perspectives for a holistic treatment plan

During the initial assessment phase, the therapist gathers extensive information about the child’s medical history, current feeding environment, and specific feeding behaviors. This data helps to identify the underlying causes of the feeding difficulties and allows for the development of a targeted intervention plan. Through observation and interaction, the therapist determines which sensory, motor, or behavioral challenges need to be addressed.

SOS Feeding Therapy (Sequential Oral Sensory)Pin
SOS Feeding Therapy (Sequential Oral Sensory)

As the therapy progresses, individualized plans are implemented with the goal of helping the child develop a more positive relationship with food. Techniques and exercises are designed to gradually encourage the child to tolerate and eventually enjoy a wider variety of foods. This might include sensory exploration activities, oral motor exercises, and behavioral interventions, all of which are adjusted to meet the child’s evolving needs.

SensoryDesensitizing to textures and smellsIncreased food acceptance
MotorImproving oral motor skillsBetter chewing and swallowing
BehaviorPositive reinforcement of eatingReduced mealtime stress
MedicalAddressing underlying health issuesOverall improved health
NutritionalEnsuring balanced dietBetter growth and development

Over time, children who participate in SOS Feeding Therapy often show significant improvements in their willingness to try new foods and their ability to participate in family meals. Success in the therapy can lead to enhanced nutritional intake, fostering better overall health and growth. Parents, too, benefit by gaining confidence and skills in managing feeding difficulties at home.

The ultimate goal of SOS Feeding Therapy is not just to teach a child to eat, but to create a positive, enjoyable experience around mealtimes. By addressing the complex interplay of factors that contribute to feeding issues, this therapeutic approach provides a comprehensive solution that can lead to lasting, positive changes. Children develop a healthier relationship with food, easing the journey towards normal eating behaviors and benefiting their long-term development.

SOS Feeding TherapyPin
SOS Feeding Therapy

The Principles Of SOS Approach

The SOS approach is built on the principle that feeding should be a positive and enjoyable experience, which underscores the importance of creating a supportive and nurturing mealtime environment. Establishing routines and incorporating play-based activities into the feeding process can significantly reduce the stress and resistance that some children exhibit during meals, making it easier for them to engage and progress in their feeding journey. This principle emphasizes the formation of healthy eating patterns and emotional connections with food that can last a lifetime.

In addition to fostering a positive environment, the SOS approach encourages collaboration among parents, caregivers, and professionals to ensure that the child receives consistent and reinforcing messages about food and eating. This collaborative effort is vital as it provides a cohesive support system for the child, with everyone involved being well-informed and actively participating in the therapeutic process. Such teamwork is key to the success of the SOS feeding therapy, as it ensures continuity and reinforcement of therapeutic strategies across different settings and situations.

  1. Start by assessing the child’s sensory preferences and aversions to tailor the approach accordingly.
  2. Gradually introduce new foods in a playful and non-threatening way to build acceptance.
  3. Use a step-by-step hierarchy of feeding tasks to incrementally improve sensory and oral-motor skills.
  4. Create a positive mealtime environment to foster better emotional connections with food.
  5. Collaborate with parents, caregivers, and other professionals to maintain a consistent and supportive approach.
Sensory IntegrationIncorporates all senses to increase a child’s comfort level with different foods.
Hierarchy of StepsGradual exposure and interaction with food to reduce anxiety and build tolerance.
Holistic AssessmentComprehensive evaluation of a child’s sensory, oral-motor, and developmental needs.


Implementing SOS Feeding Therapy Exercises And Techniques

Implementing SOS feeding therapy exercises and techniques requires a methodical and patient-centered approach, ensuring that each child’s unique needs are carefully addressed to promote successful feeding behaviors. It’s crucial to start with basic and manageable activities, gradually progressing to more complex exercises as the child’s comfort and confidence with food grows. Parents and caregivers play a vital role in the process, offering consistent support and encouragement to foster a positive and stress-free feeding environment.

One of the fundamental aspects of implementing SOS feeding therapy is creating a sensory-friendly space where children feel safe to explore various foods without any pressure or stress. This can be achieved by using a step-by-step method, which allows children to interact with food through different senses, such as looking at, touching, smelling, and finally tasting new foods at their own pace. Patience and persistence are key as children often need repeated exposure and positive experiences with food to develop accepted eating habits.

It’s important to remember that each child’s journey in SOS feeding therapy is unique, and their progress should be celebrated at every step, no matter how small, says Dr. Kay Toomey, the founder of the Sequential-Oral-Sensory (SOS) Approach to Feeding.

In terms of practical techniques, using play-based activities that incorporate food can make the process more engaging and less daunting for children. For example, food play can involve making shapes with food items, using utensils in imaginative ways, or incorporating food-based arts and crafts. These activities not only make mealtime more enjoyable but also help children build positive associations with various foods without the pressure to eat them immediately.

  1. Food Chaining: Gradually introduce new foods by starting with similar textures and flavors that the child already enjoys.
  2. Family Meals: Encourage children to participate in family meals to observe positive eating behaviors and feel included in the social aspect of eating.
  3. Desensitization: Use gradual desensitization techniques where children are exposed to food in their vicinity without the immediate expectation of eating it, allowing them to become accustomed to its presence.

Consistency is crucial, as children benefit from routine and predictability when it comes to their feeding therapy sessions. Scheduling regular sessions and maintaining a consistent approach helps to reinforce the principles and techniques being taught. Throughout the journey, it’s imperative to use positive reinforcement to celebrate successes, which can range from simply touching a new food to taking a small bite. Tracking progress methodically and making necessary adjustments based on the child’s response ensures that the therapy remains tailored to their evolving needs.

Tracking Progress And Making Adjustments

When it comes to SOS feeding therapy, one of the most critical aspects that cannot be overlooked is the systematic tracking of progress and the meticulous process of making adjustments based on the observations recorded. This is because without carefully monitoring the progress of the child, it may be difficult to identify which specific aspects of the therapy are effective and which need modification, ultimately impacting the overall success of the intervention. Therefore, to ensure the effectiveness of SOS feeding therapy, it is essential to adopt a thorough and well-structured approach to tracking progress and making adjustments.

Regular monitoring involves the consistent collection of data on a child’s eating behaviors, preferences, challenges, and improvements over time, which can be achieved through various methods such as direct observation, parent and caregiver reports, and standardized assessment tools. The information gathered from these sources provides valuable insights into the child’s response to the therapy, enabling therapists to identify patterns, trends, and areas that require attention. Additionally, it is equally important to ensure that the data collected is organized and analyzed systematically to facilitate informed decision-making regarding the necessary adjustments to the therapy plan.

  • Assessing the child’s mealtime behaviors and responses regularly
  • Keeping detailed records of daily food intake and preferences
  • Utilizing assessment tools to gauge progress in a standardized manner
  • Engaging parents and caregivers to gather comprehensive feedback
  • Identifying patterns and trends to make informed adjustments
  • Implementing changes based on the analysis of progress data

Making adjustments to SOS feeding therapy based on progress tracking is a dynamic process that involves revising and tailoring the therapy plan to meet the evolving needs of the child. It is important to note that these adjustments should be based on objective data and careful analysis rather than subjective observations alone, which underscores the significance of maintaining accurate and comprehensive records. By doing so, therapists can make evidence-based decisions that enhance the effectiveness of the therapy, ensuring that the child continues to make meaningful progress in overcoming their feeding challenges.

AspectInitial AssessmentFollow-up Assessment
Food AcceptanceChild accepts 2 out of 8 new foodsChild accepts 5 out of 8 new foods
Mealtime BehaviorFrequent refusals and tantrumsReduced refusals, occasional reluctance
Parent/Caregiver FeedbackHigh levels of concern about feedingModerate levels of concern, signs of improvement

It is important to involve parents and caregivers actively in the process of tracking progress and making adjustments, as their insights and observations provide a more holistic understanding of the child’s behavior outside the therapy sessions. This collaborative approach not only helps in gathering comprehensive information but also ensures that the therapy is aligned with the child’s everyday routines and environments, further enhancing its effectiveness. Consequently, consistent communication and collaboration between the therapist, parents, and caregivers are vital components in the success of SOS feeding therapy.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who can benefit from SOS Feeding Therapy?

Children of all ages who are selective eaters, exhibit aversive food behaviors, or have medically-based feeding challenges can benefit from SOS Feeding Therapy. It is particularly helpful for children who struggle with eating a variety of foods and textures.

What makes SOS Feeding Therapy different from other approaches?

Unlike other approaches, SOS Feeding Therapy is based on a whole-child approach that takes into account the child’s physical, emotional, and nutritional needs. It emphasizes making feeding a positive and stress-free experience and involves collaboration with parents and caregivers.

How long does SOS Feeding Therapy typically take?

The duration of SOS Feeding Therapy varies based on the individual needs and progress of each child. It can range from a few months to longer, depending on the severity of the feeding issues and the child’s response to the therapy.

Can parents or caregivers be involved in SOS Feeding Therapy?

Yes, parent and caregiver involvement is a crucial part of SOS Feeding Therapy. They are often included in the therapy sessions and are given strategies and tools to use at home to continue reinforcing positive feeding behaviors.

Are there any risks associated with SOS Feeding Therapy?

SOS Feeding Therapy is generally considered safe and is conducted by trained professionals. However, as with any therapy, it is important to work closely with a trained therapist who can tailor the approach to the specific needs of the child to ensure the best outcomes.

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