Myths and Signs of Pediatric Feeding Disorder (PFD)
When it comes to Pediatric Feeding Disorder (PFD), there’s a lot of phrases that can get thrown around and can muddy the process of getting your child treatment. These are just a few that we can hopefully clear up some misconceptions that you may have heard:
“They’ll Eat When They’re Hungry”
There are quite a few reasons why a child who has PFD might not want to eat, even though they are hungry. If they experience discomfort or pain while eating, they will come to associate those feelings with the action and begin finding ways to avoid it. In another case, a child who has motor difficulties may have difficulty coordinating in order to feed.
“It’s Just a Phase, They’ll Grow Out of It!”
While this can usually be said by a friend or family member, oftentimes this isn’t true without help. If left undiagnosed, PFD can become a real problem and stressor for the child and their family.
“My Child is Following Their Growth Curve, So There is No Concern.”
Just because they are still following the growth curve does not imply that the child doesn’t have PFD. Other factors such as going to great lengths to get the child to eat are of high concern.
“Infants Are Born Knowing How to Eat”
Infants knowing how to feed from birth is not always instinctive. Some require a good deal of help from medical staff.
“It’s Just Picky Eating or a Power Struggle Between the Parent and the Child”
While picky eating can be a phase early in life, children with PFD can often have greater issues later in life if it is not caught early. This is not the parent’s fault nor the child’s. The child’s behavior may just be their way of communicating their struggle with a difficult experience.
“Placing a Feeding Tube is a Sign of Failure on the Parent’s Fault”
Sometimes children need extra support from a feeding tube, which does not imply failure. However, if one is recommended for your child, talk to the appropriate contact given to you for support. Feeding Matters can help you get in contact with others who have had a similar experience, click here.
“PFD is an Eating Disorder”
Eating disorders like anorexia and a child having PFD are in no way the same. The child’s body image does not play a role, nor is it a mental health disorder.
“My Child Will Always Have PFD”
PFD can be a long road, however, many who work through it can develop better and safer eating methods to combat this.
What Signs Can You Look For?
Child refusing to eat and/or drink
Hard-bound food preferences
Becoming tired or falling asleep during meals
Choking or vomiting while feeding
Your primary care provider will help inform you as to what your child may need and you can then advocate the services for the benefit of your child. When advocating for your child, you are the one who speaks up for their best interests. You know them best. Below are some things to think about when advocating for your child:
Find a therapist who will advocate for you and your child. Get started by:
Checking with early intervention programs and the school district you belong to
Review your insurance plan for preferred providers near you
Talk with other parents
A family-focused provider or therapist:
Understands the environmental factors such as school, culture, and lifestyle, in your household
Demonstrates respect for you and your child
Collaborates with other providers and will share that information with your family and with them
Shows their expertise in pediatric feeding
Understand the laws that protect your children:
To best advocate for your child, understanding the policies and practices in place to best advocate for them will help you when you may need to appeal things in the future.
Managing denied insurance claims:
While this might seem frightening, the insurance provider is required to inform you why the claim was denied in the first place and then how to go about the appeal denial process. Most handbooks for insurance providers’ appeal processes are posted online. If it keeps getting denied, contact a legislator or contact an advocacy agency.
You can appeal insurance claims that may have been denied. Denials have the ability to leave an unexpected bill or a lapse in your service. Sometimes these things include, but are not limited to:
Non-active plan at time of service
Service may not be medically necessary
Service was experimental
Services are not covered
F. (2020). Pediatric Feeding Disorder: Family Guide [Pamphlet]. Feeding Matters.
Goday, P. S., Huh, S. Y., Silverman, A., Lukens, C. T., Dodrill, P., Cohen, S. S., . . . Phalen, J. A. (2019). Pediatric Feeding Disorder. Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition,68(1), 124-129. doi:10.1097/mpg.0000000000002188