Do you suspect your child has a feeding disorder?

In children, the condition is defined as pediatric feeding disorder (PFD), meaning an impaired oral intake that is not age-appropriate, and is associated with medical, nutritional feeding skill, and/or psychosocial dysfunction.

An image of the feeding clinic.For most children, there is not just one thing that causes a feeding disorder. Most often, it is a combination of factors. Things that can contribute to the development of a feeding disorder include:

  • Child temperament (slow to adapt, easily overstimulated)
  • Pain or discomfort with feeding (from things like reflux and allergy)
  • Negative experiences with feeding (pain, coughing, vomiting or gagging during feeding)
  • Negative experiences related to the mouth (history of NG tubes, oral procedures, being on a ventilator, surgeries)
  • Slow emptying of the stomach
  • Poor oral motor skills (dysphagia)
  • Low muscle tone or high muscle tone
  • Developmental delays
  • Certain developmental disabilities, such as autism spectrum disorder
  • Anxiety
  • ADHD
  • Sensory differences (hypersensitivity to taste, smell, texture)
  • Chronic health problems (ear infections, frequent respiratory infections, dental problems, seizures)
  • Parent-child conflict, parental anxiety

Did you know?

Eating is

  • The most complex task that human beings engage in. It requires every muscle in the body.
  • The only task children do which requires simultaneous coordination of all 8 of our sensory systems (visual, auditory, olfactory (smell), gustatory (taste), tactile, vestibular, proprioceptive, interoception)
  • Only instinctive for about the first month of life. Between the end of the fifth to sixth month of life eating is solely a learned motor behavior.

Another interesting fact is 1 of every 4 children are reported to have some sort of feeding disorder. The rate of feeding disorders is much higher in children with developmental disabilities. As many as 8 out of 10 children with a disability have a feeding disorder.

You are not alone.


Services that we offer may include but are not limited to:

  • Oral Motor/Feeding Evaluation (infants through 18 years of age)
  • SOS (sequential-oral-sensory) Approach to feeding therapy
  • Oral Placement Therapy strategies
  • Individual therapy
  • Group therapy
  • Home programming
  • Individualized treatment plans customized for each client's specific needs
  • Food Chaining
  • Sensory Motor Feeding Techniques
  • Evaluation for TOT (tethered oral tissues) and remediation following release

Meet Our Qualified Team

A picture of Karen Hobgood.
Karen Hobgood, M.A., CCC/SLP

Karen, who works in our outpatient/preschool therapy department, has been with Easterseals Arkansas for 27 years. She has obtained more than 100 hours of continuing education in Pediatric Feeding Disorders that include evaluations and treatment strategies for sensory based and motor based feeding disorders. In addition, she has been a part of our High Risk Infant Monitoring team for the past 22 years.

A picture of Lindsey Fink.
Lindsey Fink, M.S., CCC/ SLP

Lindsey has been with Easterseals Arkansas since 2019, working in the outpatient/preschool therapy department. She has taken several feeding courses that include SOFFI: Supporting Feeding in Fragile Infants, Sensory-Motor Approaches to Feeding, Picky and Problem Feeders, and the SOS Approach to feeding. Lindsey is also on the High Risk Infant Monitoring Team.

A picture of Alexa Milam
Alexa Milam, M.S., CCC/SLP

Alexa has been with Easterseals Arkansas since 2021. She currently splits her time between the Little Rock Developmental Preschool and The Academy. Alexa has been trained in the SOS Approach to feeding and participates in and leads feeding groups.

Is it Sensory Based or Motor Disorder?

Here's a useful checklist to distinguish if your child might be dealing with a sensory-based or motor disorder:

Sensory Disorder

  • Demonstrates nipple confusion with breast-feeding and bottle feeding
  • Inability to differentiate tastes in a bottle despite an intact suck
  • Manages liquids better than solids
  • Able to sort food out in a mixed texture
  • Holds food under tongue or in cheek and avoids swallowing
  • Vomiting only certain textures
  • Gags when food approaches or touches lips
  • Hypersensitive gag with solids; normal liquid swallow
  • Tolerates own fingers in mouth, does not accept someone else's fingers
  • Does not mouth toys
  • Refuses toothbrushing

Motor Disorder

  • Inefficient suck with breast and bottle
  • Differentiates tastes in bottle
  • Oral motor inefficiency or incoordination is noted with all textures
  • Swallows food whole when offered in mixed textures
  • Unable to hold and manipulate bolus on tongue; food falls out of mouth or into cheeks
  • Vomiting is not texture specific
  • Gags after food is moved through oral cavity
  • Gags with liquids and solids after swallow is triggered
  • Tolerates other' fingers in mouth
  • Accepts teething toys but is unable to bite them or maintain in the mouth
  • Accepts toothbrushing


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