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SOS Approach to Feeding Presented by Dr Kay Toomey, PhD

A transdisciplinary program for assessing and treating children with feeding difficulties

Eating is a complex, learned skill and some children require support in developing and integrating the feeding steps. Dr Kay Toomey developed the SOS Approach to Feeding to identify and support those children who need intervention. SOS stands for Sequential – Oral – Sensory, and as Dr Toomey has aptly described, it can also stand for Save Our Ship. Working with families who experience feeding difficulties is challenging and the SOS Approach to Feeding offers a framework for this important work.

Identifying Problem Feeders as compared to Picky Eaters provides clarity in who will benefit most. Dr Toomey introduces a practical and informative assessment to help distinguish the key traits of problem feeders. She says “…only eight to ten percent of those children will outgrow their feeding difficulty without some kind of professional intervention”. And getting early support makes a difference: “…the longer you wait, the more challenging it is to treat the child's problem. Ideal is to have the child in treatment before the age of three”.

Myths such as ‘all kids are picky’ and ‘they all outgrow it’ can be roadblocks for accessing support in a timely manner. Other myths are addressed as a part of the five tenets of the SOS Approach to Feeding, which are:  

1.Myths About Eating interfere with understanding and treating feeding problems

2.Systematic Desensitization is the best first approach to feeding treatment

3.“Normal Development” of feeding gives us the best blueprint for feeding treatment

4.Food Hierarchies/Choices play an important role in feeding treatment

5.Children learn best through PLAY- use Play-With-A-Purpose to teach new skills

The SOS Approach to Feeding is a transdisciplinary program, integrating knowledge across disciplines and removing silos. However, considering the approach through the unique lens of the dietitian highlights our valued skills. Practical food and enrichment advice helps to support family meals, and overall nutrition intake, while new skills are being developed in feeding therapy. Dietitians also contribute by identifying nutrition priorities through diet histories and analysis.

Training in the SOS Approach to Feeding starts with learning the foundations and the fundamentals of eating and feeding. It’s experiential, comprehensive and a little bit playful.

Dr. Kay A. Toomey is a Pediatric Psychologist who has worked with children who don’t eat for over 35 years. She has developed the SOS Approach to Feeding as a family centred program for assessing and treating children with feeding problems. Dr. Toomey speaks nationally and internationally about her approach. Dr. Toomey helped to form The Children’s Hospital – Denver’s Pediatric Oral Feeding Clinic, as well as the Rose Medical Center’s Pediatric Feeding Center. Dr. Toomey co-chaired the Pediatric Therapy Services Department at Rose Medical Center prior to entering private practice. Dr. Toomey acted as the Clinical Director for Toomey & Associates, Inc.’s Feeding Clinic, and then the SOS Feeding Solutions @ STAR before shifting into clinical consultation in order to focus on her teaching. Dr. Toomey is currently the President of Toomey & Associates, Inc. and an Adjunct Research Fellow at Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions. 

Interested in learning more?

SOS Approach to Feeding Main Training Conferences Australia 2023

  • Adelaide on November 6-9, 2023
  • Newcastle on 14-17, 2023

Visit SOS Approach to Feeding trainings or contact organiser Let's Grow Together