From a cultural standpoint, most life events involve eating, according to Dr. Cathleen Piazza, director of the Pediatric Feeding Disorders Program at Baltimore's Kennedy Krieger Institute and associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Johns Hopkins University.
Opportunities for socialization are missed when a child cannot eat, and a child's emotional development can be affected. Parents can be devastated by not being able to nurture their child in the normal manner.
Feeding disorders affect nearly 25 percent of all infants and children, and up to 80 percent of youngsters with developmental disabilities, according to a Kennedy Krieger program brochure. A primary goal of the program is to set nutritional feeding patterns that can be maintained by the family at home.
The program, established more than 10 years ago, claims to be the first to combine gastroenterology with behavioral psychology. Therapy is individualized for each child's specific and carefully assessed needs.