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Why SOS Approach to Feeding?

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Parents and caregivers of children who will not eat are faced with a difficult and often puzzling challenge. Because the interplay between a child’s experience of food can be complicated, there is rarely an easy solution when a feeding problem arises.

Developed over 25 years ago by Dr. Kay Toomey, the SOS (Sequential Oral Sensory) Approach to Feeding program is an effective way to address problematic feeding behaviors in a variety of settings and populations. The SOS Approach uses a transdisciplinary team (Pediatricians, Occupational Therapists, Registered Dietitians, and Speech Pathologists/Therapists) to assess the “whole child” including:

  • Organ systems
  • Muscles
  • Development
  • Sensory processing
  • Oral-motor skills
  • Learning, behavior and cognition
  • Nutrition
  • Environment

The SOS Approach to Feeding program examines all of these factors to comprehensively evaluate and manage children with feeding and growth problems.

Watch Dr. Toomey introduce the SOS Approach to Feeding

SOS Approach to Feeding Steps

Based on and grounded philosophically in the “normal” developmental steps, stages and skills of feeding found in typically developing children, the SOS Approach focuses on increasing a child’s comfort level by exploring and learning about the different properties of food. The program allows a child to interact with food in a playful, non-stressful way, beginning with the ability to tolerate the food in the room and in front of him/her, then moving on to managing the smell of the foods, learning about how foods feel on the body and in their mouth, and then enjoying tasting and eating new foods following the Steps to Eating.

There are six major “Steps to Eating”

  1. Tolerating the physical presence or sight of the food
  2. Interacting with the food without directly touching the food to your skin
  3. Managing the smell or odor of the food
  4. Touching the food directly with fingers, hands, body, and mouth
  5. Tasting the food
  6. Chewing and swallowing the food
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