What is the F.R.E. Program?
The Food Repertoire Expansion Program (F.R.E.) is designed for helping the picky eater. It is a sensory, oral motor, and behavioral approach to improving feeding skills.
This program incorporates:
- Sensory Strategies: to increase tolerance of new foods based on taste, texture, smell, and color characteristics
- Oral Motor Activities: to improve jaw strength, increase lingual mobility, normalize the gag reflex, establish more mature patterns of biting/chewing
- Cognitive Strategies: to understand the fears, reduce the avoidance, and increase the willingness to explore novel foods
- Parental Strategies: to increase carryover of newly acquired skills within the home environment
"FRE it Up at Home"
1. Intra-Oral Exploration/Stimulation
- The goal is to provide opportunities for your child to explore the inside of his/her mouth. This can be accomplished with a toothbrush, pretzel rod, raw carrot, hard licorice stick (twizzler type), or a lollipop. The idea is to "wake up" the mouth and to move the gag reflex farther back on the tongue. This activity also facilitates the development of tongue lateralization skills. You can do this with your child by using your finger to "count" your child's teeth, or "tickling" the tongue or inside of the cheeks. When using your fingers, it is important to use firm, but not hard, pressure. The frequency that you do this is more important than the duration of each exploration.
2. Food Exploration
- The goal is to encourage smelling, licking, tasting, biting and/or spitting (spitting rockets) the food into the garbage. This is progressive, but be sure that your child knows that we're NOT eating. We're just smelling, licking, etc. and then the food can go into the garbage.
3. Discourage Food Jags
- Try to be aware to vary the brand, shape, color and/or flavor of the foods that your child is already eating. If your child only eats one brand and flavor of yogurt, begin by removing the yogurt from the container and putting it into a dish. From there, you can then change the brand, or the flavor in small increments.
4. Mix It Up
- The goal is to increase variety by mixing the foods that your child already eats. If your child currently eats toast and butter, and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, try combining jelly and butter, or making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on toast. This helps increase the variety of tastes that your child accepts.
Feeding evaluations at Island Therapies utilize a team approach. Feeding therapy incorporates the above concepts, but is individually designed for each child. For more information, please contact us.