Mealtime & Feeding Services at the University of Washington

At the University of Washington Autism Center, we’re committed to empowering autistic individuals with mealtime & feeding challenges by providing individualized, neurodiversity-affirming care. We strive to work together with families to develop a culturally responsive mealtime support system. The UWAC program addresses oral motor skills, sensory processing, and emotional needs. Our mission is to create a nurturing and inclusive environment that fosters positive feeding experiences for every person and their family. 

Why does my child have such a hard time eating?

Individuals with ASD often experience feeding challenges related to sensory differences, oral motor difficulties, and a variety of other factors. Feeding therapy can help children and families address these mealtime struggles in a safe and supportive way.

The University of Washington Autism Center (UWAC) provides assessment and treatment for feeding challenges. Your continued eligibility will be reviewed every 3 months.

Who is a candidate for feeding therapy?

The UWAC feeding program help children experiencing some of the following issues:

  • eating a limited range of food types and textures
  • struggling with oral motor skills needed to chew, swallow, and drink
  • difficulty moving to solid foods or are stuck at a specific food texture
  • learned that eating is unpleasant or difficult
  • those that have anxiety and challenging behaviors related to mealtimes.

We treat children who currently receive nutrition via G-tube to support the process of transitioning to oral feeding by establishing critical oral motor and sensory processing skills, however our team does not work to actively wean children from tube feeds.

If you have questions about eligibility, please reach out!

What kind of therapy do you provide?

UWAC uses a responsive feeding approach. Some of our therapists are Sequential-Oral-Sensory (SOS) Trained.

Mealtime & Feeding Assessment

A feeding assessment typically takes place over a two-hour appointment. The goal of our assessment is to determine what factors are contributing to an individual’s feeding difficulties. We want to be able to evaluate your and individual’s current skill level with foods that they do well with, as well as determining how they handle more challenging foods.

Mealtime & Feeding Therapy

The goal of feeding therapy is to address key developmental needs and engage individuals in purposeful play to gradually increase comfort and acceptance of new foods. Weekly sessions take place at a one-hour appointment. Our therapists support the development of oral motor skills and teach sensory-based problem solving to achieve these outcomes. Caregiver participation and education are a key part of our program to ensure individuals can eat in all environments.