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Program Offers New Hope

noteA Family Faces Feeding Challanges

Coloma resident Amy Masiker remembers a time when her son, Maxtyn, would eat just about anything. 

“He used to eat everything on our plates when he was about one year old,” Amy said. “But when he got sick, everything changed.”

At age two, Maxtyn began struggling with cyclic vomiting syndrome (CVS), a condition characterized by episodes of severe nausea and persistent vomiting. He was later diagnosed with a physical delay, and his physicians also suspected autism or mitochondrial disease. As a result of these health problems, Maxtyn had trouble eating certain foods, which kept him from gaining weight. 

“The only things Maxtyn ate were corndogs and pizza—anything new was scary to him,” Amy said. “Because of his issues with motor skills, he wasn’t able to use utensils.” 

But Amy didn’t give up on helping Maxtyn overcome his difficulties with eating. After getting a referral 
from his pediatrician, Maxtyn began therapy at the Lakeland Outpatient Rehabilitation Center in Coloma, just down the street from the family’s home. A year later, Maxtyn’s therapists recommended him for a new program being launched at the center, the Lakeland Intermediate Feeding Experience (LIFE) program.

Before starting the program, Speech Language Pathologist Lisa Sutton and Occupational Therapist 
Kristen Hankamp evaluated Maxtyn to determine an appropriate individualized feeding program. Treatments can include sensory integration, behavioral modification, oral motor training, and family education. 

“Our approach for each child is different based on what we find in the evaluation,” Kristen said. “We’ve worked with kids from four months old on up, and trouble with feeding can be the result of any number of things, including sensory issues, undeveloped motor skills, or an undiagnosed gastrointestinal problem.”  

Amy brought Maxtyn to see Lisa and Kristen twice a day, two to three days a week, for six weeks. During that time, the therapists worked with Maxtyn on exercises with his mouth, holding a spoon, and trying new foods. Throughout the program, Amy was able to watch Maxtyn’s progress from a monitor in a separate room and learn valuable tactics she could use during mealtime at home. 

Today, Amy continues to introduce Maxtyn to new foods. Although there are certain things he still won’t eat, his list of favorite foods is longer than ever—macaroni and cheese, sandwiches, noodles, and eggs, to name a few.

“It was so helpful to have the tools that Kristen and Lisa taught us,” Amy said. “He’s so much more willing to try new things, and he realizes it’s not as scary. He will even put the spoon in his mouth now.” 

Does Your Child Have a Feeding Disorder?

Pediatric feeding disorders are on the rise. If you answer yes to any of the following questions, the Lakeland Intermediate Feeding Experience program may be able to help you find a solution. 

• Does your child frequently cry or refuse food whenever meal time comes around? 
• Does your child have frequent bouts of spitting up or vomiting associated with eating? 
• Is your child unable to gain weight because they don’t consume enough calories or diagnosed with “failure to thrive”? 
• Does your child gag when trying new foods? 
• Has your child been diagnosed with Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) or are you have difficulty weaning your child off their feeding tube? 
• Has your child been diagnosed with dysphagia? 
• Does your child have a cleft palate or some structural abnormality making it difficult to eat? 


For more information or a free telephone screening, call (269) 468-4318



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