An estimated 25% of all children have a feeding disorder. This number increases in children with developmental delays.
If you think your child may be one of them, The Cindy & Tod Johnson Center for Pediatric Feeding Disorders at St. Mary’s Healthcare System for Children can help. In fact, our outcomes show that at least 90% of all children admitted into our program achieve their goals.
Our Center for Pediatric Feeding Disorders
The first—and only—intensive day patient program in New York specializing in the evaluation and treatment of pediatric feeding and swallowing disorders, our family-centered intensive program identifies strategies to assist children who present with eating difficulties such as:
- Inability to progress in textures
- Nutritional deficiencies
- Dependence on tube feedings
- Ongoing weight loss or poor weight gain
- Food refusal
- Mealtime tantrums
- Extremely limited variety of foods
While our patients range in age from infants to teenagers, most children we service are between the ages of two and six. Our interdisciplinary team focuses on treating the whole child, addressing the clinical and behavioral aspects of their feeding disorder and developing a treatment plan to address their specific needs. Additionally, caregiver training that includes school personnel is mandatory for effective transitions to other environments.
Does your child need feeding therapy?
Request an evaluation. Your child may benefit from feeding therapy if they have one or more of these symptoms:
- Ongoing weight loss or poor weight gain.
- Recurrent choking, gagging, coughing or vomiting during meals.
- Difficulty achieving developmental milestones for feeding (e.g., weaning from bottles, transitioning to table food and/or higher textures of solid foods).
- Tantrums and crying during mealtimes.
- Extremely limited variety of foods.
- Oral motor difficulties and delays.
- Sensory difficulties related to food.
- Dependence on gastronomy (g-tube) or nasogastric (NG) tube feedings.
If they do, request an in-depth evaluation at our center. During the evaluation, which may last several hours, our interdisciplinary team will conduct a comprehensive assessment and recommend treatment strategies.
“For five years we dreaded every meal’: my infant son’s struggle with food” Read more about one of our feeding program graduate.
Designed for children who are medically stable but have failed to make significant gains in outpatient treatment and require intensive multidisciplinary care, treatment spans, on average, six to eight weeks. Attended by both child and a caregiver, the program runs weekdays and includes multiple daily treatment sessions between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m., suited to each child’s treatment needs.
Outpatient Feeding/Swallowing Therapy
This program addresses oral motor deficits, swallowing impairments and/or behavioral feeding issues. Pediatric speech language pathologists with extensive dysphagia and behavioral expertise treat each child weekly at our facility. They also work closely with caregivers on treatment goals and provide training in the established feeding protocol to assure treatment gains carry over to other environments.
For children with dysphagia, difficulty feeding and swallowing, our Center for Pediatric Feeding Disorders offers VitalStim therapy to aid muscle strengthening and improving swallow function. VitalStim therapy can help patients better manage secretions, improve swallowing, aid in diet advancements and help sustain long-term improvements.
Videofluoroscopic Swallow Assessment
A Videofluoroscopic Swallow Study (VFSS) is a video x-ray that is used to see how your child coordinates the muscles in their mouth and throat for swallowing. Using x-ray, we can see how well the food and liquid travels from the mouth to the esophagus. We can also assess how well the airway is protected during swallowing. Airway protection is important so that food and drink does not go down into the lungs.
Request a Feeding Disorder Evaluation
Simply complete the application below and submit it with a growth chart, any pertinent medical records and a letter of medical necessity from your pediatrician or GI doctor.
St. Mary’s Hospital for Children
Center for Pediatric Feeding Disorders
29-01 216th Street
Bayside, NY 11360