Date Presented 04/22/2023

This session reviews a study that examines the correlations between sensory processing, sensory systems, mealtime behaviors, and feeding in children with identified feeding difficulties.

Primary Author and Speaker: Aimee Piller

Additional Authors and Speakers: Taylor Tonks

Many children with developmental disabilities have feeding difficulties and many children who receive feeding therapy also have sensory processing differences. Feeding and eating are a sensory experience that encompasses nearly all of the sensory systems. Food selectivity in children has been linked to sensory processing differences (Chistol et al., 2018). Specifically, tactile processing is known to impact feeding (Zulkifli & Rahman, 2021). However, much of the research describes the impact of general sensory dysfunction with specific populations (i.e. autism). The purpose of the present study was to identify the association between sensory processing and food sensitivities in children receiving feeding therapy services. A retrospective correlation study examined 47 children (ages 2-12) from an outpatient feeding therapy program. The study examined the total, subtest, and items from the SPM/SPM-2, Brief Assessment of Mealtime Behaviors in Children (BAMBIC), and a food preference checklist. Researchers performed a correlational analysis using a 2-tailed Spearman. Results indicated moderate correlations were found between specific test items on the BAMBIC related to food selectivity and the Body Awareness subtest of the SPM/SPM-P. A child’s willingness to try new foods had moderate correlation with the total score of the SPM/SPM-P. In conclusion, it is important to consider proprioceptive processing when addressing feeding difficulties in children. This may indicate that oral motor planning impacts feeding performance. In addition, the study strengthens the idea that sensory processing differences are associated with a child’s willingness to increase food repertoire. Impact Statement: The results of this study indicate the importance of proprioceptive processing in feeding difficulties, indicating practitioners should consider sensory processing beyond tactile when addressing feeding concerns.


Chistol, L. T., Bandini, L. G., Must, A., Phillips, S., Cermak, S. A., & Curtin, C. (2018). Sensory Sensitivity and Food Selectivity in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Journal of Autism & Developmental Disorders, 48(2), 583–591.

Zalkifli, F. N. & Rahman, P. A. (2021). Relationship between sensory processing disorders with feeding behavior problems among children with autism spectrum disorder. Malaysian Journal of Medicine and Health Science, 17(Supp3), 230–236.