FeedingBreakthrough Pediatric Feeding Occupational Therapist working with little girl 4 years old Therapy in Davie Autism Center 

Cynthia Pepper, MS OTR/L, Occupational Therapist, Registered/Licensed

Cynthia recently moved to south Florida from the Boston area where she completed her Masters Degree in Occupational Therapy at Tufts University, studied child development at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and worked in Early Intervention with children 0 to 3 years old.  Having worked in schools, clinics and home-based care, Cynthia brings diverse pediatric experience.  She is a former first-grade teacher who prides herself on making learning and skill development fun for children of all ages and abilities, even handwriting and feeding!  Cynthia specializes in feeding therapy and is trained in the Sequential Oral Sensory (SOS) approach for children 6 months to 6 years of age.  She is passionate about routines-based intervention—helping parents to integrate therapeutic and strength-building activities for children into their everyday lives—and looks forward to working with you and your child!

Feeding Therapy | SOS Approach

Feeding therapy/intervention uses a sensory approach to expand a child’s tolerance and acceptance of different foods. Foods differ on many dimensions—look, taste, smell, temperature, texture etc.—and some children will exclude whole categories of foods based on a certain property they do not like. Often, it is hard to isolate what that is, and parents can feel frustrated that their child refuses to try any new foods or eat anything other than a handful of preferred ones (i.e. plain pasta, crackers, and chicken nuggets).  

What is important to understand is that food can be very scary to a child. Just as an amusement park might be overwhelming due to all the new sights and sounds, new foods can provide overwhelming sensory information to a child (think about how much a food changes from when you are looking at it outside of your mouth to when you swallow it) and/or a child may not have the vocabulary or insight to describe what aspect of the new food experience he or she finds displeasing. Instead, the child just says, “I don’t like it” or “yuck” and refuses to go near it or, in extreme cases, to even be at the same table as the food. This can result in a very limited repertoire of foods for a child and a very frustrated parent. Food therapy can help change a child’s relationship with food exploration and provide new strategies for the parents.

The Sequential Oral Sensory (SOS) Approach was originally developed by Dr. Kay A Toomay at the STAR center in Colorado, and she has since trained professionals (Occupational Therapists, Psychologists, etc.) worldwide to treat feeding issues in children of all ages. Through this approach, children both develop their oral-motor skills and learn to explore the characteristics of different foods in a nonthreatening way—through play and exploration.

In feeding therapy, a child (6 months to 6 years old) learns to explore new foods in a safe way and to use more techniques, developmentally appropriate oral-motor skills (munching, chewing, biting, etc.) and vocabulary (i.e. taste, texture, temperature, etc.) when approaching new foods.

To find out more about the approach and its underlying theory, visit our South Florida Feeding Therapy SOS resources.

Call Breakthrough Therapy Services newly doubled in size Center in Davie. (954) 474-8048. Stop in and make your child’s feeding therapy appointment today!