The SOS (Sequential Oral Sensory) approach to feeding

What a week! I have just finished a basic and advanced series on the SOS (Sequential-Oral-Sensory) approach to feeding. This program was developed and taught to us by Dr Kay Toomey (Psychologist) and Dr Erin Ross (Speech Pathologist) who came to Sydney all the way from Colorado, USA.

I had received lots of questions from families last week about the course so I thought I would give you a brief summary:

What is it? A transdisciplinary program for assessing and treating children with feeding difficulties.

B eating toast

What makes it different to other feeding programs?

  • It was developed in conjunction with other health professionals including paediatricians, dietitians, speech pathologists and occupational therapists.
  • It integrates posture, sensory, motor, behavioural, emotional, medical and nutritional factors.
  • It is based on normal developmental stages and skills of normally developing children
  • Treatment incorporates systematic desensitisation towards feeding – it doesn’t stress children out but rather achieves steps at their own pace.
  • Therapy can be implemented with one child or in a group.
  • Group sessions are usually 8-12 weeks long (blocks of therapy) and individual sessions are not limited to 12 sessions
  • The principles can be applied to any child who is seeing an SOS trained therapist however to be doing “the SOS feeding protocol” requires the SOS trained therapist to adhere to specific components of the program (this ensures consistency and treatment success that is proven with research)
  • It is a family centred care program so the involvement of the family is essential to both assessment and treatment.


Why do I like it?

  • It is family centred.
  • It acknowledges that eating is the most difficult sensory task your child has to do.
  • It stresses that families are not the cause of the feeding behaviour but rather investigates the causes behind the feeding difficulty in the first place.
  • It draws together both sensory and oral motor issues in treatment planning.
  • Research studies have shown it not only works but generalises and continues to work down the track.
  • It doesn’t trick or force children to eat.
  • It supports parents.



So what did I spend my time last week learning about?

  1. Basic 3 day course that involved assessment and treatment of picky eaters and problem eaters.
  2. Advanced days that focused on:
  • Oral-motor steps to eating
  • Advancing oral skills and intake
  • Involving parents as a partnership in feeding
  • Transitioning off tube feeding
  • Feeding children on the Autism Spectrum
  • Working with children within the 6-18 month age range
  • Working with children with severe developmental needs
  • Working with older children

Did I enjoy the course?

Yes – it challenged some of my thinking about feeding difficulties and gave me some great ideas with specific caseloads. Having a background in feeding made it much easier to understand and process Dr Tommey and Dr Ross’ theory and program elements.

If you are already a patient of mine, we will no doubt be chatting about some great therapy ideas in the coming weeks. If you would like to make a referral for your child to start some of the SOS feeding practices, then feel free to give me a call on 0434 387 675 or email

lets eat speech logo

This website and information on this blog post is provided for educational purposes. It is not meant or intended to replace Speech Pathology assessment and management nor medical or nutritional care for a child. It is recommended that you discuss any concerns or questions you might have with your Speech Pathologist and managing Doctor and develop an individualised team plan specifically for your child.


About the author of this blog post

Valerie is an Australian based Speech Pathologist with 10 years experience in Paediatric Feeding. She has recently opened a private practice called 'Let's Eat! Paediatric Speech Pathology' that caters for Newcastle based babies and children with feeding difficulties and early intervention speech and language delays. Valerie is passionate about working in the area of paediatric feeding and special needs and has been involved in the teaching and training of Australian Speech Pathology University students and allied health professionals. You can find out more about Valerie Gent and 'Let's Eat! Paediatric Speech Pathology' via her website and Facebook page SpeechPathology or email her on 

One thought on “The SOS (Sequential Oral Sensory) approach to feeding

  1. Sarah Kelly

    Great summary Val!

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