Helping Families Conquer Difficult Feeding Disorders

For children with feeding disorders associated with medical conditions or developmental delays, mealtime can feel like a futile daily ritual leaving the child under-nourished and parents feeling hopeless.

Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Health Pediatric Development and Therapy Center has established a feeding clinic that helps children up to 12 years of age overcome complex and debilitating disorders.

Working closely together with each patient family, the clinic’s team of diverse specialists treats physical, medical and emotional aspects of feeding disorders.

Psychologist Melissa Gonzalez, Ph.D., specializes in the emotional component. She trained at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, Md., a renowned innovator in feeding and behavioral disorder treatment. She also taught as an assistant professor at Johns Hopkins’ Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences.

The clinic’s developmental behavioral specialists, Steven Felix, MD, and Cindy Chestaro, MD, provide medical care. A speech therapist, physical therapist and occupational therapist collaborate on patient care.

The entire care team meets together and evaluates new patients as a group. The appointment takes about 90 minutes. The team then convenes to develop a care plan, which the parent receives before they leave.

Feeding disorders can result in malnutrition and under development. These children are prone to miss school, and it’s often more difficult for them to enjoy things such as birthday parties and holidays.

Recognizing and treating feeding disorders can drastically improve the quality of life for these children and their parents. The feeding clinic does this by combining medical treatment, therapies and by teaching parents the techniques most effective in helping their kids overcome feeding disorders.

“My goal is to be able to come up with strategies to teach the parents that they can practice every day,” Gonzalez said. “The parents have to be the ultimate therapist in the end.”

The feeding clinic is part of Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Health Pediatric Development and Therapy Center, located at 8415 Goodwood Blvd., Suite 200 in Baton Rouge. To make an appointment call (225) 765-6346.