The FOCUS Institute (For Mealtime Success)

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, cuttingedge occupational therapy assessment and intervention for individuals of all ages.

Many children and 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.

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

Eating is a complex and multisystem skill, so FOCUS practitioners believe it is helpful 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.

Family Success Story

Thank you for your superb work with our son this year! I am so glad we found you; I think you really moved him forward in his goals, form self-regulation strategies, to core strength development, to being a “food detective.” He has come a long way and we see the benefits of his work with you in so many areas in his life. He really enjoyed being a kid this year! I have such respect for the work OTs do. Thank you, thank you!

What does the FOCUS Institute do?

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 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 Program uses a detailed evaluation process in order to identify the key areas impacting an individual’s eating abilities and habits. The evaluation process helps to identify an individual’s unique needs in order to develop a highly effective treatment plan.

A systematic intervention process is utilized to address and mitigate negative patterns and behaviors while improving family-based mealtime participation. Our intervention approach is a whole-body approach focused on a progression of core building blocks necessary for eating success and beyond. Our treatment encompasses both remediation-based intervention, as well as the development of strategies and tools to support ongoing needs of each individuals.

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.

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?

  • The FOCUS Institute systematically and comprehensively evaluates and provides intervention for ALL underlying sensory and
    motor challenges that contribute to mealtime in order to build a customized treatment plan.
  • The FOCUS Institute uses a 6-phase intervention process that supports the development of core skills necessary for eating and mealtime success.
  • The FOCUS practitioners use a whole-body approach to understand and provide intervention for sensory and motor limitations that are the core of many functional everyday skills, including mealtime participation.
  • The FOCUS Institute focuses on addressing the root cause of eating based challenges rather than focusing solely on the mouth.
  • Practitioners do not use the behavioral approaches and force-feeding techniques that are used in other programs.
  • Services provided at The FOCUS Institute can be used in conjunction with other professionals that support health and mealtime performance such as dietitians, 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.

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