The FOCUS Institute (For Mealtime Success)
Many children and adults experience eating difficulties brought on by physical, sensory and psychosocial factors.

Restrictive eating patterns negatively impact an individual’s social, emotional, and dietary well-being and can lead to more serious complications.

Individuals with sensory or physical challenges, no matter what age, may experience negative mealtime patterns that include not eating or limited intake of food because of selectivity or sensitivity issues, gagging or swallowing reactions, vomiting, social stress and oral motor shortcomings. One or more of these factors contribute to unsuccessful mealtimes for individuals and their family members.

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.

How can complex, negative eating patterns be treated and turned into mealtime success?

Individuals who have eating difficulties develop successful mealtime patterns by addressing their underlying sensory and whole body challenges. Many children and adults experience eating difficulties brought on by physical, sensory, and psychosocial factors. We work with these individuals to overcome mealtime issues using an 8-step process to ensure proper nutritional, emotional, and social health and well-being.

What does the FOCUS Institute do?

The FOCUS Institute for Mealtime Success helps individuals with sensory challenges who have eating difficulties develop successful mealtime patterns through compassionate care, systematic assessment of all underlying issues, and whole-body intervention and treatment.

Many kids and adults experience eating difficulties brought on by physical, sensory, and environmental factors. We work with these individuals to overcome mealtime issues using an 8-step process to ensure proper nutritional, emotional, and social health and well-being. At the FOCUS Institute, comprehensive and family-centered assessment, treatment, and education are provided by occupational therapists that are highly-skilled in identifying and addressing the challenges that trigger mealtime challenges. The entire process, from the initial intake through discharge planning, is collaborative with family members, and customized to focus on the unique and individual needs of the client and family to ensure personal mealtime goals are understood, achieved, and replicated over time.

The FOCUS Program uses a detailed evaluation process in order to identify the key areas impacting an individual’s eating abilities and habits. A systematic intervention process is utilized to address and mitigate negative patterns and behaviors while improving family-based mealtime participation.

Services offered at The FOCUS Institute include:
  • FOCUS occupational therapy evaluation
  • 1:1 outpatient occupational therapy services
  • Consultation and education with clients, families, and team members
  • Educational training for professionals

I wanted to thank you for everything you did today. In the past twenty-one months I have not had a day like today. Once we got home after M’s nap, she ate an egg, ten cubes of tofu and half an apple. She played like a normal child and did not give me a hard time with diaper change and bath time. On top of this she ate two chicken meatballs and tomatoes for dinner! She also tolerated being at the dining table for fifteen minutes without throwing food. The whole day went smoothly. Thank you so much for today.

– Mother of child using FOCUS

How are we different?

Unlike other programs, The FOCUS Program avoids force-feeding techniques or only addressing isolated challenges that contribute to mealtime, but rather systematically evaluates ALL underlying sensory and motor  challenges first – in order to build a customized treatment plan.

The FOCUS Program is the only mealtime success treatment approach that utilizes an actual 8-step process that takes into account all underlying mealtime challenges and can be used alongside other professionals as part of a multi-disciplinary approach.

The FOCUS Program can be used in conjunction with other professional interventions that supports health and mealtime performance such as dieticians, psychologists, social workers and speech and language pathologists.

FOCUS practitioners are compassionate, highly-skilled and deeply-experienced professionals with a proven track record of mealtime successes. All staff are trained to recognize, evaluate, and treat all types of eating challenges in individuals with sensory and physical challenges.

The FOCUS Institute is located within OTA The Koomar Center, an internationally-recognized center for occupational therapy, speech and language therapy and sensory integration. OTA The Koomar Center has been offering mealtime evaluation and treatment services for more than 30 years, and is a national leader in providing experienced, collaborative, cutting-edge occupational therapy assessment and intervention for individuals of all ages. OTA The Koomar Center is a subject matter expert on mealtime success.