Every parent has at some point encountered issues with their kids around eating, yet it’s such a vital part of growth and development.
Feeding difficulties are common for children – with and without autism. But knowing how to address them can be a challenge. At Irabina we take a unique approach, leveraging a fully multi-disciplinary team to create a holistic program that addresses everything from the behaviour to psychological, medical to physiological.
Below, one of our parents shares her son’s journey.
Our son is 5 years old and his eating issues started at around 2 ½ years. Foods he used to devour with gusto were reducing in number over time. As life was busy around us and navigating the unique aspects of autism, we truly didn’t realise that this was the start of his challenges with food.
Late 2018, at 4 years we decided to undertake SOS feeding therapy. We did eight sessions but knew it wasn’t intensive enough, nor the right therapy philosophy for our child. Early 2019, we were pretty desperate to get professional help that was intensive. We engaged in the services of a nutritionist and dietitian who came into the home for 10 sessions at dinner time. Once again, certain aspects of this approach worked but it was too soft and unstructured and simply didn’t resonate with our son, who quickly got bored with the approach.
Late 2019, our son started to lose weight, often had a pale complexion and we just knew he wasn’t getting adequate nutrition from food to function optimally. We got down to less than a handful of foods for dinner and were heavily reliant on snack foods throughout the day to satisfy his daily energy needs. Desperate to do anything to help him overcome his anxiety with food, I did some research and came across Irabina via a google search. We had our introductory meeting and were lined up for his assessment in March 2020. As an interim measure, prior to Irabina starting, we accessed a paediatric dietitian who guided us to implement some small changes, including introducing healthier substitutes and a meal replacement to ensure our son was getting his nutritional daily requirements.
“Our son took to the therapy like a ‘duck to water’.”
We started Irabina’s intensive feeding clinic in April 2020.
We selected the 16 foods to target and within the first week our son took to the therapy like a ‘duck to water’. The consistent approach and knowing what was expected of him was very clear from the outset. The therapists and multidisciplinary team were professional, knowledgeable and supportive throughout the entire process.
When we had hard days, they welcomed open and honest dialogue and were flexible with the therapy’s deliverables, to the extent the end goal was achieved. They respect that each client is different, both from a cultural and family value perspective. They also understand that each client has their own unique challenges, but all are treated with warmth and a true desire to arm families with confidence to implement and transfer successful eating strategies to the home environment.
Our son finished the feeding therapy successfully consuming more than 16 new non-preferred foods and we have since introduced another 5. It has impacted our lives dramatically and the sheer delight we feel when our son finishes his dinner or comes home with an empty lunchbox from school, is truly the best feeling.
Eating food is a daily lifetime ritual and we knew if we could help him overcome his fears and develop a healthy relationship with food, we’ve helped make a profound impact on his life.
At Irabina our feeding program will help you and your child bring the fun back to mealtimes. Our multi-disciplinary team can help your child to:
We’re also here to help parents and carers as well, providing specialised training; strategies specific to your child; and advice to help you navigate the NDIS process.