On January 29th, 2014, forty-five educators and related service professionals attended a training at KSSB entitled, Feeding Time as a Pleasant Experience for Children Who Are Visually Impaired. The presenters, Cathy Smyth, Teacher of Students who are Blind and Visually Impaired and an Early Childhood Educator; Carol Spicer, Occupational Therapist; and Zoe Morgese, Speech Language Pathologist, who directed a 3-year Gerber Foundation Grant awarded to the Anchor Center for Blind Children in Denver, Colorado. They designed and implemented the research project to determine how vision impairments affects feeding development in children from birth to 3 years of age. This training was conducted at the Kansas State School for the Blind on Tuesday, January 21, 2014, from 1:00 to 4:00 pm. This workshop was sponsored by the KSDE TASN grant for TVIs and COMS, and the Kansas State School for the Blind.
Feeding/eating concerns are among the most common challenges reported by parents of young children who are blind, visually impaired, and deafblind. Without visual cues to establish feeding time as a pleasant experience, some children have issues related to texture, willingness to try a variety of foods, and willingness to eat. If not resolved, these problems can impact nutritional habits into adulthood, requiring feeding clinics or other interventions.
The three-year study identified the points at which the feeding/eating process breaks down most frequently for young children with visual impairment. The team has recently submitted a journal article for publication, and is applying for further funding to develop a family-centered protocol to assist families, therapists, and nutritionists work toward independent eating skills and enjoyable mealtimes.
The participants completed a program evaluation and will be emailed the journal article once it is published. One month from the day of this training, the TVIs involved in the TASN Grant Program will be asked to submit ideas that they have incorporated into their practice.