Unique feeding clinic helps families

The Finicky Feeders Food Selectivity Clinic at the Western Michigan University Pediatric Occupational Therapy Clinic serves children ages one to 15 who have food aversions, food refusal, difficulty with texture transition, self-limited diets, oral incoordination and/or disruptive mealtime behaviors.

The clinic treats children with a variety of medical diagnoses, such as autism spectrum disorder, sensory processing disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and neuromuscular disorders that may be associated with feeding. Some children who attend eat fewer than five foods as part of their regular diet, and many refuse entire food groups. Goals of the clinic are to increase participants’ mealtime repertoires and add non-preferred foods to include a healthy variety of foods from each group. Children also learn mealtime behaviors that make family mealtime less stressful.

This program is unique because it uses a combination of sensory, motor, and behavioral strategies. In addition, faculty place a larger than normal emphasis on parent education. Parents are taught strategies to help their children develop good habits for a lifetime of healthy eating.  

Treatment runs during WMU’s academic semesters and typically six children are accepted each semester, giving them about 10 sessions per semester. The clinic is operated at the Unified Clinics at 1000 Oakland Drive.

Master’s level occupational therapy students provide treatment under direct supervision of faculty member and clinical supervisor, Michelle Suarez.