SOS Approach to Feeding Disorders

Kay Toomey

Kay Toomey and Erin Ross two of our esteemed instructors recently published a description of their SOS Approach to Feeding Disorders in:Perspectives on Swallowing and Swallowing Disorders (Dysphagia) October 2011 vol. 20 no. 3 82-87. 

This highly successful transdisciplinary approach starts with addressing the reasons why a child is struggling to eat. It uses a whole child perspective, integrating sensory, motor, oral-motor, behavioral/learning, medical, and nutritional factors for both assessment and intervention, resulting in strategies to comprehensively evaluate and manage children with feeding/growth problems.

What are the goals of this program?

Success is determined by
(a) intrinsically motivated and sustained interest in trying new foods
(b) enjoyment in and appropriate skills for eating and drinking a wide range of age-appropriate foods and fluids
(c) consumption of sufficient calories for optimal growth along a child’s own percentile line on a growth curve
(d) improved family understanding and functioning during mealtimes for the development of healthy relationships with food and each other.

Erin Ross

Clinicians: please share your experiences with this approach!

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19 Responses to SOS Approach to Feeding Disorders

  1. Gina says:

    Please come to the west coast, preferably Southern CA!!

    • Mandy says:

      Hi Gina, we do have several dates scheduled for next year and are currently in the process of confirming venues, including a west coast one. As soon as these dates are confirmed they will be up on our website.
      Please check back

  2. Lauren says:

    Any plans to come to Virginia/Maryland/DC area?

  3. Gina Hughes Luck says:

    I have attended both the Basic and Advanced workshops in 2009 but only recently started working in the area of feeding. Are there any webistes or resources available to past attendees? I remember that there was a google group at some point. Is that still functioning?
    Thank you for any information
    Gina Luck

    • Mandy says:

      Hi Gina, I did want to let you know of one great resource that we are aware of: “Mealtime Stories”
      Our feeding thread within this blog is building and will also be a great resource.

  4. Lisa Norfolk says:

    I am considering attending an SOS feeding course and I am wondering if you have scheduled any West Coast courses for 2013.

    Thank you.

  5. Mandy says:

    Hi Lisa, currently this course is scheduled for Dallas, TX and Columbus Ohio, but we do have one further date yet to be confirmed, so please check our website again shortly
    Thank you

  6. Melissa says:

    I’m an SLP needing to take a feeding/swallowing course to learn some hands-on strategies for kids transitioning from G tubes to oral intake. Which SOS course would be best for my current needs?

    • Mandy says:


      After looking at the speakers’ handouts, I have three recommended courses for you to take that address the transition from tube feeding to oral feeding. A very brief summary of why I recommended them is below.

      Amy Kageals course: this is a new course for us, covering young children in NICU, EI and Home. She definitely covers the issues of being a non-oral feeder, and how to treat infants in all three settings. However, I don’t have her handouts yet to see more details.
      Erin Ross’ course on the SOFFI method to support oral feeding in fragile infants would be great for you. She teaches the SOS approach with Kay Toomey, but this course is taught on her own and delves into another approach (SOFFI method which is “supporting oral feeding in fragile infants”) that focuses on infants to identify oral feeding readiness. It also talks a lot about the NICU experience with the common medical issues that impact feeding skills. It also discusses how the baby regulates their systems, talks about the role of families, and oral-motor development.
      The Mary Tarbell-Bickley course is for an older child in addition to infants, so it moves into other types of foods…not just formula/breast milk. It does discuss common problems such as tube dependency, lack of autonomy, rigid eating patterns, inability to regulate satiety, and difficulty transitioning to table foods.

      I think you would be happy with any of the above, but if you want to focus more on infants, I would recommend the first two.

      I hope this helps you wade through our feeding courses!

      Barbara Goldfarb, Vice President, Education Resources

  7. Jennifer says:

    I am looking for treatment for my 10 year old son who has Selective ED. I live in Los Angeles and am hoping to find treatment here in S Ca, but so far have come up empty handed in terms of finding a place that offers a multi-disciplinary approach re assessment and treatment.
    Ideas???? He’s fallen off the charts for height and weight over the past few years and we need help.
    Thank you

  8. Abigail Zhang says:

    LOVE this approach! The no pressure, natural progression of tolerance is so incredibly accurate for how children are able to accept a food. Accurate every time, regardless of time frame 🙂

  9. Amita Kapoor, OTR/L says:

    I am considering attending an SOS feeding course and I am wondering if you have scheduled to come to Oregon, Portland for 2013-2014.

    • Mandy says:

      Hi Amita, we are still in the process of scheduling courses for next year. Currently this course is booked for Memphis TN, and Omaha, NE. With a date in November left to schedule. Please check our website, as this is continually updated.
      Thank you

  10. poorna says:

    I missed the recent workshop in Columbus, OH. When are you scheduling your next workshop in Ohio.


  11. Bri Kurcsak, MS, OTR/L says:

    I am an OT and have gotten feedback from some of the SLPs that I work with… that I might be infringing on their territory. Can you provide me any feedback to help educate my coworkers on how OTs can benefit from this training to work in conjunction with SLPs. I see kiddos with a wide variety of sensory difficulties, and feel this can only benefit me. Thanks

    • Sarah says:

      Bri, maybe a soft reminder that we all try to work together with different frames of reference each of us bring different key strengths to the table. For example, slps may have extensive anatomy and swallowing expertise with kids as OTs can have a strong sensory motor foundation. But that’s not to say a slp can’t have a strong sensory motor foundation or an OT can’t specialize via training/CEUS in dysphagia. In 2000, university of michigan hospital’s dysphagia team staff was 50/50 specialty trained OTs and SLPs. Just like PTs and OTs have some overlapping in Rxs or are working on what appears to a client to be the same thing WE ARE actually focusing on different components . This may be a similar example for most to understand and not feel threatened. But as an OT remember @presby when PTs document for ADL how the picture is painted. 🙂 hope this helps…..

  12. Michelle Boles says:

    Hello! I am a physical therapist working with the 3 and under population and would love to take the SOS course to help my patients. There is a severe shortage of feeding therapists in my area. I have always had an interest in this area bc my son is a problem eater. Can PTs bill for feeding? Is there a course on the East Coast anytime soon? Thanks, Michelle

    • Mandy says:

      Hi Michelle, The SOS Approach to Feeding Course is going to be in Fairfax VA in November of this year. Please visit our website for full details.
      Thank you Mandy

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