Key to Early Intervention services (EI) for many children is nutrition therapy. In a typical month, four registered dietitians from Feed to Succeed see over 50 children through EI. Assisting these children under the age of 3 meet nutrition requirements to grow and thrive is crucial to setting them up to reach age appropriate milestones.
Children we serve can have any number of reasons for requiring nutrition therapy ranging from medically complex developmental delays to food allergies and aversions. We meet with each child individually in their homes to assess their needs and develop a plan that is realistic for their family.
For a child with complex medical issues, who cannot swallow liquids, for example, we work with the family to find ways to keep the child hydrated and gaining weight with thick, nutritionally balanced liquids. And for a child with behavior-related picky eating, we work with the family to develop strategies for creating healthy eating norms. Our suggestions are based on Ellyn Satter’s research on picky eating and adapted for each child, according to his or her needs.
While nutrition wasn’t always a part of the Early Intervention program, there are countless reasons why it must be. Children with developmental delays or those who battle childhood illnesses must first address nutrition before conquering other therapies. A child who needs occupational therapy to learn to sit up or walk needs strength from a nutritional diet. And if this child has an aversion to food or has trouble swallowing—which is so often the case for these kids—nutrition therapy must be in place as well.
The state’s Early Intervention program provided services to more than 20,000 children last year diagnosed with at least a 30 percent delay in at least one area, or who are at risk for delay, according to an article in The Chicago Tribune.
The hope is that by working with these children at a young age, they will be better prepared for school.
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Click here to read about some of our EI clients.