The Occupational Therapy Department at CHOP has initiated an SOS-based feeding program to more fully meet the needs of patients who may have feeding difficulties.
What is SOS?
SOS means sequential oral sensory. It is designed to assess and address all the factors involved in feeding difficulties by taking a bottom up approach and is philosophically based on the idea that the child is “always right.” The program is guided by four tenets:
- Myths about eating interfere with understanding and treating feeding problems
- Systematic desensitization is the best and first approach to feeding treatment
- Normal development of feeding gives the best blueprint for feeding treatment
- Food hierarchies/choices play an important role in feeding treatment (feeding treatment considers all factors of feeding attachment, cognition, nutrition and oral motor)
CHOP’s SOS Program
CHOP OT and Feeding Center teams have collaborated to assess the program’s needs and shared costs to implement the service. Program leader and occupational therapist Maura Musial, M.S., O.T.R./L., and staff OTs Kristy Pucci, O.T.R./L., A.T.P., and Stephanie Hunt, M.S., O.T.R./L., have all completed an SOS competency course.
The program treats children referred from the feeding clinic, outpatient staff and the Feeding Day Hospital. Children are placed in groups or individual sessions and come to CHOP one to two times a week for “food school” where they:
- Learn to have positive experiences with food
- Learn mealtime routines and cues to eating
- Decrease resistance to touching, tasting and swallowing food
- Increase the foods they try
- Increase the volume of food they eat
While children are in the SOS group, a clinical specialist in the Feeding Day Hospital, Lisa Veitz, B.S., assists with parent discussions about generalization to the home.
“It has been amazing to watch the progress the children have made,” says Musial. “We recently graduated our first group and the results were unbelievable. When they first started, the children would become upset with just the visual presentation of the food. And now, in just a short amount of time, they are exploring a variety of different foods and look forward to coming to food school.”
Future programming is being developed for groups and will be held at the King of Prussia and Virtua specialty care centers.