Changing lives one bite at a time

Eating is essential for growth and development, but it is also a common challenge for many children and a source of stress for parents. Our Feeding Program offers comprehensive care to help your child develop a positive relationship with food.

Located at both Marcus Autism Center and the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Center for Advanced Pediatrics, our multidisciplinary program is one of only a few facilities in the country to offer empirically supported, treatment for children 8 months to 21 years old who have chronic feeding disorders.

How do I know if my child has a feeding disorder?

Many children with feeding disorders struggle to gain weight from eating little or no food during meals or relying on formula by bottle or through a tube. Other children consume enough calories, but will only eat a narrow range of foods. Some often reject one or more food groups, like fruits and vegetables. Avoiding and/or restricting food intake can negatively affect a child’s physical, social and psychological wellbeing.

Signs and symptoms of a feeding disorder

  • Poor weight gain
  • Feeding tube dependence
  • Bottle or formula dependence
  • Mealtime tantrums, or mealtimes exceeding 40 minutes
  • Distress and anxiety with new foods
  • Inability to adapt to different textures
  • Inability or refusal to feed oneself
  • Extreme pickiness (eating fewer than 12 foods)

Programs to treat feeding disorders

    The Feeding Program offers many levels of service to address each child’s unique feeding needs.

  • Feeding Clinic–Provides testing to make general recommendations for further evaluations and interventions at Marcus Autism Center or in the community.
  • Day Treatment Program–Offers a medical program for children who require intensive daily therapy without 24-hour medical supervision, including intensive feeding sessions, sensorimotor training, psychosocial family support, and medical and nutritional monitoring.
  • Outpatient Program–Serves children with feeding disorders who can be treated by less intensive therapy, such as one hour, once a week, with one discipline, or children who graduated from the Day Treatment Program needing additional assistance.

Coordinated care from specialized providers

Staff members evaluate the factors contributing to feeding problems, develop individualized treatment plans, train caregivers to implement procedures and provide long-term follow-up care. The most complete and efficient treatment involves a team of specialists, including:

  • Occupational therapists who focus on reducing hypersensitivity to gagging or textures while building skills related to chewing and self-feeding
  • Behavioral psychologists who use behavior analysis or related techniques to design a structure to help children and parents during mealtimes
  • Nutritionists who ensure children are getting balanced nutrition, guiding adjustments to supplemental tube feedings or feeding formulas
  • Physicians and nurses who monitor the impact of health and development on a child’s feeding practices

Patient successes and outcomes

  • 85% or more of goals set by parents and the treatment team are reached at the completion of the Day Treatment Program.
  • Parents gave high ratings for program satisfaction (4.9 out of 5), program effectiveness (4.3 out of 5) and treatment acceptability (4.6 out of 5).
  • Patients eat an average of only three foods upon admission, but they leave eating 19 foods, including at least four fruits, four vegetables, four starches and four proteins.
  • On average, tube feedings are reduced from 88% of a patient’s daily calories upon admission to 47% by completion of the Day Treatment Program.

Referrals

To have your child evaluated by our team, please email us or call 404-785-9493