Insights about telehealth services for feeding therapy by Verbal Beginnings’ Director of Healthy Beginnings, Ben Sarcia.
As our news and social media channels are saturated with updates regarding COVID-19, one thing has become immediately clear: We are all going to be at home for longer than we had initially thought, so why not take advantage of this?
At Verbal Beginnings, we have been talking about incorporating Telehealth, that is using a video meeting software to connect therapists and clients at a distance, for quite some time. Now the need for these services for our Healthy Beginnings program have become clear. But whom exactly would benefit from this service and how does the method change to match the medium?
First of all, we are so proud that so many of our parents and caregivers have excelled at adopting the successful strategies of promoting appropriate eating habits in their children that previously did not exhibit such habits. However, a “time crunch” appears to be an incredibly common reason that children who have already made great progress show signs of regression. In other words, there simply was not enough time at home in order to practice what was taught during the program and the skills weren’t generalized to the home. What I have heard from parents is, “We utilized your instructions for lunches but only on weekends,” or “it was easier to offer foods that we knew that he would eat without me having to sit with him and implement the mealtime protocol.”
It goes without saying that without practice and repetition, there is no reason for your child’s mealtime behavior to change. Therefore, I encourage parents and caregivers to take the time now, if you have not already, to really focus on mealtime behavior, whether our current stay at home situation lasts another few days, weeks, or even months.
Aside from the potential health benefits of promoting a well-balanced diet, oftentimes exerting the effort and spending the time while your child is young can go a very long way in the future. If you require help with dusting off the mealtime protocol that your ABA team has developed, feel free to contact me directly and we can brainstorm the best strategy for promoting lifelong healthy mealtime behavior. We can all take advantage of the Telehealth option to stay connected despite the order for social distancing at this time. So far, I have seen firsthand that a video meeting can be a helpful way to meet with caregivers to simply talk about what is happening during meals as well as give some encouragement to those that may be having a challenging time in their new role. Telehealth is also a great opportunity for me to watch the meal and provide recommendations. While it may not be quite the same as being there in person, I am finding it to be a very helpful option when the timeline for the return to normalcy is unclear.
If you think your child would benefit from receiving feeding therapy services at the Verbal Beginnings Center, contact [email protected].
Written by Ben Sarcia, MA, BCBA, LBA