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
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.
To have your child evaluated by our team, you’ll need a doctor referral and to complete the steps to make a new patient appointment.