Many adults experience eating difficulties brought on by physical, sensory, and psychological factors. Restrictive eating patterns impact an individual’s social, emotional, and dietary well-being and can lead to more serious complications. Challenges related to selectivity or sensitivity, gagging or swallowing reactions, vomiting, heightened social stress, and oral motor skill limitations are common for clients with underlying sensory and motor limitations. At the FOCUS Institute, comprehensive assessment, treatment, and education are provided by occupational therapists that are highly-skilled in identifying and addressing the challenges that trigger mealtime problems. We strive to help individuals who have eating difficulties develop successful mealtime patterns through compassionate care, systematic assessment of all underlying issues, and whole-body intervention and treatments.
The FOCUS Institute for Mealtime Success offers the highest quality evaluation and treatment for clients with feeding and mealtime challenges. There are a few different types of evaluations that are offered through the FOCUS Institute. Our intake coordinator will be happy to discuss with you which evaluation will best meet your needs. Wondering if you would benefit from support in this area? Click here to find out. Click here to learn how to get started.
Most clients require a full, comprehensive evaluation in order to begin occupational therapy services. Our comprehensive evaluation requires 12 hours of therapist time. This evaluation will give a complete picture of the client’s sensory processing and motor needs, including how these contribute to eating and mealtime challenges. It includes 2 1/2 to 4 hours of direct assessment, a comprehensive detailed written report, and an evaluation feedback meeting.
Specialty FOCUS Oral Motor Evaluation
The FOCUS Oral Motor Evaluation is a specialized evaluation that assesses in detail the sensory and motor foundational skills related to mealtime and eating performance. This evaluation is recommended for clients who have primary concerns around eating/feeding with some potential mild concerns related to overall sensory processing and motor skills. Specific information regarding the client’s oral motor abilities – including oral structure coordination and strength, chewing and drinking patterns, patterns of food selectivity, and other factors that impact eating performance – will be thoroughly assessed as part of this focused evaluation. It includes 2 hours of direct assessment, a detailed written report, and an evaluation feedback meeting.
Clients whose evaluation is covered by Harvard Pilgrim Health Care (HPHC) insurance plans are eligible for our abridged evaluation to assess oral motor and feeding skills. This evaluation requires 45 minutes to 1 hour of assessment and includes a brief two-page written report. An evaluation feedback/goal-setting meeting is strongly encouraged but not covered by this insurance plan and must be paid for out-of-pocket, if desired. This evaluation is not comprehensive but is sufficient to determine eligibility for occupational therapy services.
Individual therapy works to address the foundational areas that are required for successful eating. Eating is a complex and multisystem skill, so FOCUS practitioners believe it is not helpful to target treatments solely on the individual’s mouth, but to consider the individual’s whole body and all environmental, contextual, physical, and psychological causes as part of a collaborative and systematic approach to treatment. Each therapeutic treatment program is based on the individual needs of the client and is tailored to meet the individual’s unique goals. A combination of whole-body work as well as targeted oral motor skill work is included throughout the course of treatment. Treatment goals may include: strengthening the postural muscles necessary for eating, increasing strength and control of different oral structures necessary for eating, decreasing oral sensitivities, and working towards exploration with food to expand food repertoire.