Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Health welcomes Melissa Gonzalez, PhD, to its growing team of specialists who work with children with developmental disabilities and autism spectrum disorders. Dr. Gonzalez is a clinical psychologist and doctoral-level licensed behavior analyst (BCBA-D) who specializes in pediatric feeding disorders.
Feeding problems are frequently a concern of caregivers and may have serious short- and long-term health and social consequences for children and their families. Dr. Gonzalez, who brings elite-level experience and knowledge to help families overcome these difficulties, has established the Pediatric Feeding Clinic at the Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Health Pediatric Development and Therapy Center with an interdisciplinary approach to assess and treat feeding difficulties in children up to 10 years of age.
“So many families struggle with their children at meal time, and research tells us that it’s often more than simply being a ‘picky eater,’” said Shaun Kemmerly, MD, chief medical officer for Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital. “We are thrilled to have someone with the experience and talent of Dr. Gonzalez who can work with families in finding the best solution to help their children get the nutrition they need while making meal time a more pleasant experience for everyone.”
Dr. Gonzalez earned her doctorate in clinical psychology with a specialization in developmental disabilities in 2008 from Louisiana State University. She continued her post-doctoral training at Kennedy Krieger Institute and the Department of Pediatrics at Johns Hopkins Medicine in Baltimore, Md., where she further specialized in working with children with feeding disorders and severe behavior disorders/self-injurious behavior.
Dr. Gonzalez joined the faculty of Kennedy Krieger Institute in 2009 and later earned the academic appointment of Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Johns Hopkins Medicine where she supervised clinical care of inpatients and outpatients in the Pediatric Feeding Disorders Program. She provided training and supervision to doctoral interns and fellows and conducted clinical research related to pediatric feeding disorders.
To help children overcome complex and debilitating feeding disorders, the interdisciplinary feeding team collaboratively develops treatment plans based on a patient’s individualized needs. In addition to psychology, the interdisciplinary feeding team includes specialists in the areas of developmental pediatrics, speech-language pathology, and occupational therapy.
“Feeding difficulties often arise as a result of multiple factors and frequently require an interdisciplinary approach to treatment, “ Dr. Gonzalez explained. “We are partners with each family on their unique journey. The overall goal is to develop strategies so that the caregivers can support the child in practicing new skills at home to re-establish mealtime as a positive experience for the family and develop opportunities for the child to have greater community and social participation. These skills are a basis for children to be healthy, happy and engaged members of our community.”
Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Health Pediatric Development and Therapy Center is located at 8415 Goodwood Boulevard, Suite 200, in Baton Rouge. Visit ololchildrens.org/childdevelopment to learn more or to request a patient information packet.