As a speech language pathologist, one of the requirements to maintain certification is to receive continuing education. Coming out of graduate school, I felt so unprepared since there are a variety of areas we treat-cognition, apraxia, dysphagia, aphasia, etc. I was often exposed to professionals sharing information to “register for this course” to learn more about “__________.” When I would click on the information or link, the prices were all too frequently astronomical. It left me pondering which ones to invest money and time into that will best meet the needs of my clientele? Fortunately at the start of my clinical fellowship this year (a 9-12 month mentorship), my supervisor had me identify specific goals I would like to achieve in the next year related to the field of speech-language pathology. Improving my knowledge and skills in pediatric feeding was one of them.
I first heard about the SOS (Sequential Oral Feeding) approach to feeding, a very reputable course and treatment approach, from my supervisor. This training aims to identify and help children create a healthy relationship with food. This was definitely not an area highlighted in my undergraduate and graduate studies, however, it intrigued me. I’ve had a few client’s on my caseload with reported feeding difficulties, but never felt like I had the proper tools in my toolbox. The opportunity arose for me to attend and I jumped on it!
During the 4-day course, we learned about theories, practical applications, and had hands-on practice with partners, putting theories and skills to the test. Throughout the course, I found myself making notes of various clients on my caseload and critically thinking how I can improve my therapy sessions. Most notably and an immediate take-away, is the 10 Mealtime Myths I could share with families and colleagues directly from the SOS website:
Beyond improving my understanding and clinical rationale for my treatment approaches, this course reinforced another reason to implement play into therapy sessions. I use play-based approached for improving my pediatric client’s language and social goals, and now, following this course, I am reinforced to implement play during mealtimes as well (see Mealtime Myth #5!). Further, the SOS course takes a sensory-based approach to feeding, really making me think about my client’s sensory needs. As a speech-language pathologists, we often don’t get a ton of training on sensory needs, deficits, disorders, etc., However, this course, led by speech-pathologists x2 and an occupational therapist, provided education to both assess and address the sensory needs of our pediatrics. This included information on positional and seating modifications, as well as verbal and visual feedback (i.e., “you can” v. “can you...” verbiage, mirror, etc.) recommended during treatment sessions.
I understand more now than ever, the cost of the knowledge and benefits to comprehensive training programs to educate families and patients. For more information on attending the course or information for families of children with feeding difficulties, please feel free to contact us at LeighHarterSpeech@gmail.com or surf their website linked below.