ORAL MOTOR/FEEDING PROGRAM
The BCIU# 22 Oral Motor/Feeding Program is a multidisciplinary team designed to provide support to elementary and secondary students who may be in need of intervention to ensure they are able to eat safely and/or to eat in a developmentally appropriate manner. We provide assistance to teachers, school districts and parents when dealing with students with oral motor and feeding challenges as it relates to the school setting.
A speech language pathologist and occupational therapist conduct team evaluations, provide written information to be included in the Evaluation or Re-evaluation, develop feeding plans to be attached to the student’s IEP, and train teams working with the students. Behavior Analysts and physical therapists are also part of the team as indicated. Parental and medical provider input is a core component of the evaluation process. Follow-up support and training is available on an on-going basis by request.
The primary goal is to: Support a student’s needs in the educational setting as it relates to his/her ability to eat safely and/or to eat in a developmentally appropriate manner. Properly trained staff provide services to students.
Referrals are made to the Speech Language Supervisor.
• Program supervision and management
• Collaborative, team approach to evaluations and planning by trained speech language pathologists and occupational therapists
• Collaboration with medical providers
• Behavior Analyst support is available as needed
• Physical Therapist support is available as needed
• Social worker support is available, as needed
• Programs developed to include sensory integration and oral motor regimens as indicated to meet student specific needs
• Parental support and training
• Feeding plans and specially designed instruction
• On-going staff development training in evidence-based practices and approaches to oral motor development and feeding strategies
The speech pathologist (SLP) on the team reviews background medical information, receives medical clearance and obtains other pertinent information in completing the evaluation process and providing treatment. Collaboration with the school IEP team, including the psychologist and school nurse, is essential in treating the whole child and evaluating a child’s ability to eat or drink. The gathering of this information helps in the assessment and in recognizing the educational relevance that feeding has as it relates to a child’s ability to eat safely and in a developmentally appropriate manner.
An occupational therapist (OT) is a member of the feeding team who evaluates a student having oral motor/feeding difficulties. The OT works with the speech and language pathologist/feeding consultant, as well as the student’s teacher and staff. As a team, they assess why a student is having difficulty eating lunch or snack, drinking, or participating in tasting during a cooking activity.
The OT assesses the following:
1. The student’s environment during lunch/snack/tasting activities-How does the physical presence or absence of people and objects affect the student’s participation in eating/drinking/tasting tasks? Does the mealtime schedule/routine support successful participation in lunch/snack/tasting?
2. The student’s posture, seating, and positioning during lunch/snack/tasting activities- For example, the student may require a particular type of chair, positioning cushions, or adjustments to seat and/or table height. The OT assists in determining the safest position for the student to eat/drink/taste as well as the most effective position for independence.
3. The student’s motor-based skills during lunch/snack/tasting activities-Does the student’s muscle tone and movement patterns affect his/her success with eating/drinking/tasting?
4. The student’s fine motor and self-feeding skills during lunch/snack/tasting activities-Does the student require adapted feeding equipment to successfully eat/drink/taste? Does altering the set-up, presentation of food or drink, or feeding/drinking equipment allow the student to more independently participate in lunch, snack, or tasting activities?
5. The student’s ability to process sensory information from environment and/or food and drink-Does the visual and auditory stimulation in the environment allow the student to successfully participate in lunch, snack, or tasting? How does the student respond to various food textures and odors? How does various sensory input effect the child’s performance during eating and non-eating activities?
The feeding protocol ensures that children will be properly evaluated, resulting in a Feeding Plan becomes part of the Individual Education Plan (IEP). The Feeding Plan includes all the components that support optimal feeding patterns, including the following areas: oral motor, solid food textures, liquid textures, medical, behavior, communication, sensory, posture/seating/positioning, fine motor/self-feeding, parents/home. The Feeding Plan Form documents instructions, strategies, and modifications designed for a particular child. This plan allows the speech pathologist to model and demonstrate strategies that were effective during the evaluation to the parents and the school based team. The feeding team, as a unit, works to develop a plan so the student can safely use and develop skills for successful participation in lunch, snack, and/or tasting activities in school. Since the Feeding Plan is part of the IEP, it reinforces how important feeding is to the child’s program and progress.