Feeding And Oral Motor Therapy

Oceanside Therapy Group provides comprehensive feeding therapy for patients who have complex feeding and/or oral motor disorders. Intensive feeding therapy can be provided for children from birth to 12 years of age.

We work with children with a variety of medical diagnoses (e.g., gastroesophageal reflux, failure to thrive, cardiac and pulmonary conditions). In addition, we also provide treatment for children with autism who display food selectivity by type and texture.

Disorders of feeding and swallowing can occur during different stages of the swallow. For difficulties in the oral stage of swallowing, therapy will focus on providing oral-motor exercises to strengthen and coordinate the muscles within the oral cavity, to allow for better preparation of foods while ensuring a safe swallow. For difficulties in the later stages of the swallow, various compensatory strategies may be used to ensure that aspiration (fluids and food entering the lungs) does not occur.

Sensory feeding disorders commonly occur in children with sensory integration dysfunction, including children with autism spectrum disorders. A different approach to feeding therapy is used for these children, focusing on the sensory system rather than motor. SOS (Sequential Oral Sensory) Feeding Program is an example of a sensory-based feeding therapy that takes the whole child into account when developing a program to better include a variety of foods into their diet. Oceanside Therapy Group is proud to present a team of therapists who have also received training in various feeding programs to implement as a holistic approach to feeding difficulties.

Typical feeding goals addressed include: Establishing intake of solid foods and liquids; increasing the amount of food and liquids consumed; expanding the variety of child’s diet including liquids; teaching chewing and progressing texture; G-, J-, and NG-tube weaning; bottle weaning; minimizing food refusal; reducing pickiness; reducing length of mealtime duration; and teaching and increasing self-feeding, making mealtime more positive.

We take a multi-disciplinary approach that includes:


Feeding can be impacted by medical issues that involve primary organ systems such as the respiratory tract,gastrointestinal tract and brain. We examine potential medical concerns to minimize their effect on the child.We also recommend interventions such as medications,
changes in formula or nutrition, and/or changes in feeding times or amounts.

Occupational/Speech Therapies

Proper feeding and swallowing can be affected by postural support, rib cage or spinal mobility, muscle imbalance or respiratory issues. Our therapists offer treatment that can include rib cage and spinal mobilization, muscle stretching, and therapeutic exercises. Families are encouraged to take part in this therapy and to continue it in the home.

Oral-Motor Skills

Inefficient movement of the muscles of the mouth or other difficulties with fine or gross motor skills can sometimes affect feeding and swallowing. Our speech- language pathologists provide suggestions and therapies to maximize the child’s oral-motor skills to facilitate improved feeding and swallowing. We will objectively assess the swallow mechanism and determine developmentally appropriate and safe textures for your child.

Behavioral Analysis

It can be challenging for children who struggle with feeding and swallowing to adopt methods to eat new or higher textured foods. Behavior analysis can aid in the development of proper feeding and swallowing skills by identifying possible learned patterns, developing treatment procedures and evaluating those treatments over time to ensure maximum results. Behavior strategies can help children learn to consume new or more food, advance texture and self-feed.

Family Therapy

Feeding issues can affect every member of the family. Our speech and occupational therapists involve the entire family in the treatment process and offer support, counseling, and encouragement throughout the rehabilitation process.

If you have concerns regarding your child’s eating habits, please ask your therapist if a feeding evaluation may be recommended.

What to look for:

  • If your child is an overall “picky eater”
  • If your child has limited variety in his/her diet (i.e., only eats a few foods)
  • Low caloric intake or slow growth
  • If you find it difficult to take him/her to a restaurant
  • If your child has to have his/her own meal at mealtime
  • If your child eliminates an entire food group (e.g., all vegetables or all meats)
  • If you feel your child would rather go hungry than eat non-preferred foods
  • If your child will not self-feed
  • If mealtime is generally stressful for you and/or your child

Looking for an expert feeding therapy provider for your special needs child? We want to help. Contact Oceanside Therapy Group at Oceanside, CA anytime to schedule an evaluation!