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What is mealtime support?
For some individuals with autism, difficulties with eating and drinking could mean that they benefit from mealtime support.
Children and adults with autism can sometimes experience difficulties with eating and drinking. These difficulties can include not liking some foods, finding it hard to accept new foods, disliking a variety of different textures, and not getting enough nutrition.
This can mean having a limited diet which can, in turn, lead to other health and wellbeing issues.
Mealtime support is designed to help individuals with autism who have a range of mealtime issues. It considers the impact different factors may be having on an individual’s eating and drinking, and develops and implements appropriate personalised therapies to address them.
How can I benefit from a mealtime assessment?
A mealtime assessment will usually be undertaken by Autism SA Speech Pathologists and Occupational Therapists who work collaboratively to assess and identify needs in areas such as:
- Oral motor development and skills
- The phases of swallowing
- Sensory processing influences
- Food selectivity and volume
- Independence skills
- Posture and motor skills impacting on positioning, and
- Environmental impacts.
In addition to an assessment of the above skills, an Autism SA mealtime assessment will provide a comprehensive report, recommendations, plans, strategies and more.
A further outcome of a multidisciplinary mealtime assessment may include a recommendation of mealtime therapy or other strategies.
How can I benefit from mealtime therapy?
Mealtime therapy is designed to support individuals with autism who have a range of mealtime issues. It considers the impact different factors may be having on an individual’s eating and drinking, and develops and implements appropriate personalised therapies to address them.
Our team focus on developmental age and not chronological age, to help support individuals to find their hidden talents and strengths, and enabling them to be the best they can be.
Mealtime therapy in the early years can be provided 1:1 or within a group setting (if appropriate). It typically will target food play and the introduction of new foods by using the Sequential Oral Sensory (SOS) Steps to Eating™ approach.
School years children can be engaged in mealtime group therapy or 1:1 mealtime therapy. Resistance to and around foods is addressed by exploring and experimenting with foods in the manner of a scientist, using approaches from the evidence-based Food Scientist™ approach.
School leavers and adults
A speech pathologist or occupational therapist can provide mealtime therapy for adults in sessions designed to target independence skills associated with mealtimes, such as food and meal preparation, or cooking. Adults can also engage in a mealtime therapy group with similarly aged adults who have an interest in cooking and mealtimes.
How can I access the service?
For more information about supports and services at Autism SA, please contact My Pathways on 1300 288 476 or firstname.lastname@example.org. If you would like to find out more or to access a mealtime service please email email@example.com
Autism SA is accredited and registered as a provider through the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA). This means that you can pay for services at Autism SA with your NDIS funding, or you may pay yourself, through fee for service.
Frequently asked questions
How can I get a referral for a mealtime assessment?
The following people and professionals are able to make a direct referral to have a mealtime assessment with one of Autism SA’s occupational therapists or speech pathologists:
- General Practitioners
- Child Health Nurses
- Other health professionals
- Childcare workers, kindergarten and school teachers, and
- Community health organisations.
What funding options are available?
Autism SA is accredited and registered as a provider through the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA).
Mealtime support can also be provided through a Fee for service arrangement.