What is the SOS Approach?
SOS approach stands for ‘Sequential Oral Sensory’ approach to feeding:
- Developed by Dr. Kay Toomey.
- Feeding program that can be used to evaluate and treat a variety of populations that experience difficulties with feeding
- Requires a transdisciplinary team effort (Pediatricians, Occupational therapists, Registered Dietitians, Speech Pathologists)
- Focuses on promoting a child’s comfort level with food through gradual introduction and play exploration
- Desensitization approach used as child progresses through the six “Steps to Eating” that gradually exposes child to the different properties of food to increase tolerance and acceptance during mealtimes
- This protocol requires the child’s participation
The 6 “Steps to Eating”
For this first step, the child has to be able to tolerate the appearance of the food item. The food item can be within the same room as the child or placed at the table where he or she is seated.
- Interact with the food indirectly
This step does not involve direct skin contact with the food. The child can begin to explore the properties of the food by using a fork to touch and play with the food. This stress-free environment allows a child to become more comfortable with interacting with food in a way that is fun.
Unpleasant or strong odors can often be one of the reasons why a child may avoid eating certain foods. The next step to eating involves having the child tolerate the smell of the food item.
For this next step, the child can start to come in direct contact with the food by using their fingers and body to touch and play with the food. During this process, the child is learning how the food feels on their body and can begin to tolerate different properties of the food including the texture and temperature.
Now that the child has experienced how the food feels on their hands and body, the food can be brought into their mouth so that they can taste the flavors and feel the texture of the food. This can be done by having the child dip a spoon in the food to try a taste or the child putting the food in their mouth and tolerating it for a few seconds before spitting it out.
The final step involves not only having the child tolerate having the food in their mouth, but also having them chew and swallow.