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The Mealtime Partners Program provides an integrated overview, in-depth understanding, and individualized guided experience in developing and implementing home-based mealtime programs for children with special feeding challenges. The program addresses the needs of children, parents, and professionals.



The Mealtime Partners Program concept is based on the premise that children are born with the inner ability to eat and to grow appropriately. During infancy they learn to interact with adults as they expand their eating skills and enjoy both the food and the mealtime environment. Some children experience a disruption of this normal cycle because of difficulties in physical, sensory, structural, and environmental skills and opportunities. Coordination problems may interfere with the ability to suck, swallow or chew food. Sensory processing difficulties can contribute to stress and discomfort during eating. Gastrointestinal discomfort contributes a negative association between food and the desire to eat. Parents and therapists often respond to the child’s difficulty with eating or eating refusal with pressure and an attempt to control the type and amount of food that the child eats. Battles for control disrupt the entire mealtime and reduce eating to an unpleasant contest for everyone.

Mealtime Partners is based on a trust model of intervention, which will be reflected at every level of the program. Children inherently want to eat and want to interact with the partners who share the meal with them. When they do not, something is getting in the way. Identification of the roadblocks that limit the development of eating skills and comfort is essential in helping children return to their natural desire to be part of mealtimes. The mealtime and the child’s comfort and desire to learn to eat are the most important elements of the Mealtime Partners Program.Strategies designed to increase physical coordination, sensory processing and integration, gastrointestinal comfort, communication and oral-motor control are incorporated to support the child’s eating skill and desires. All children can participate in a shared mealtime that is happy and rewarding for both the child and family.

Each level of the program will provide information and concrete strategies to support the child and parent in the following components of a mealtime program:

  • Beliefs and Attitudes

  • Mealtime Partnership

  • Mealtime Communication

  • Sensory Processing

  • Gastrointestinal Comfort

  • Positioning and Movement

  • Oral Feeding Skills



Levels of Participation

The Mealtime Partners Program will include three levels of learning and involvement with the concepts and strategies underlying mealtimes for infants and children.

    Mealtime Partners Starter Kit

    Mealtime Partners Workshop

    Phone and Video Consultations


Each level of the program will be completed in sequence, but will have intrinsic value at each phase of the program. Parents and professionals may go as far into the programmed sequence as they desire



  • Pre-Feeding Skills: A Comprehensive Resource for Mealtime Development, 2nd Edition
    by Suzanne Evans Morris, Ph.D., and Marsha Dunn Klein, M.Ed., OTR
    The new 2nd edition of Pre-Feeding Skills is completely revised and expanded into a text that focuses on the entire mealtime experience and feeding relationship for children from birth to adolescence. The book includes foundational information about normal feeding development, anatomy and physiology of feeding and swallowing, and limiting factors that influence feeding. Assessment and treatment principles and strategies are thoroughly explored. All chapters have been updated to include new art, current research, references and trends. 12 new chapters have been added since the 1st edition.
    Read in depth about--

    • Mealtime Foundations, Influences and Roles

    • Assessment Observation, Testing and Planning

    • Treatment Principles and Perspectives

    • Specifics of Oral Motor Treatment

    • Learning and Communication at Mealtime

    • Positioning and Handling Influences at Mealtime

    • Sensory Influences at Mealtime

    • Nutritional Influences at Mealtime

    • Self-Feeding

    • Feeding Materials and Resources

    • Children Who Experience: Prematurity, Visual Impairment, Gastrointestinal Discomfort, Autism

    • Children Who are Tube-Fed

    • Children Who Don’t Eat Enough

  • Helping Your Child with Extreme Picky Eating: 
    A Step-by-Step Guide for Overcoming Selective Eating, Food Aversion, and Feeding Disorders
    by Katja Rowell, MD and Jenny McGlothlan SLP
    This unique and powerful book provides valuable guidance for parents and therapists whose children have feeding challenges. Although it focuses on children whose picky-eating issues create a deep concern for families, it also provides a template for helping any child who experiences feeding and mealtime difficulties. It supports the development of inner-directed eaters through building children’s positive relationship with food and mealtimes.

  • Feeding with Love and Good Sense: The First Two Years

  • Feeding with Love and Good Sense:18 Months through 6 Years
    by Ellyn Satter, RD, A.C.S.W.
    These are the first two of Ellyn Satter’s booklet series. She is a registered dietitian, family therapist, and internationally recognized authority on child nutrition and feeding. For decades, parents have found that feeding is simple when they follow Satter’s Division of Responsibility in Feeding. In these remarkable booklets, Satter shows parents in words, pictures, and feeding stories how to do their jobs with feeding, then let their children do their jobs with eating. She gives a concise behavioral and nutritional guide to feeding children, emphasizing “what” to do in words and pictures, and demonstrating “why” to do it with feeding stories. The emphasis is on tuning in, understanding, and feeding children in a stage-appropriate way.

  • Happiness is a Choice 
    by Barry Neil Kaufman
    Effective programs for children with feeding problems depend equally upon "what we do" and "how we do it." Happiness is a Choice provides the ingredients for the how of therapy. The Option Process approaches each child and family from a base of happiness and knowledge that change comes most easily when approached from a base of unconditional love and acceptance of each individual. Barry Kaufman has observed that people who are most successful in finding happiness share certain traits. He has used these traits to create six shortcuts to happiness that you can begin using immediately. This is a wonderful book for everyone working with families and children with feeding and oral-motor difficulties.

    These books can be purchased from a variety of online websites. When you register for the workshop, we can send you a current list of websites for ordering each book.



The Mealtime Partners Workshop, "Becoming a Mealtime Partner", is a three-day weekend workshop (Friday,Saturday and Sunday) for eight to ten parents and professionals working with children with feeding challenges. Workshop participants send a videotape and completed questionnaire providing specific information on their child a month before the workshop. The workshop has a fixed content and format but is customizable in terms of information, emphasis, and the video examples used. The content centers on the most important areas for helping children develop the comfort, skills, and confidence to participate happily in a mealtime and expand the skills that lead toward competent and efficient oral feeding. Participants must be familiar with information from the Mealtime Partners Starter Kit before coming to the workshop. Workshop participants receive a manual containing a review of the foundational concepts and very specific strategies and techniques that support the fundamental development of mealtime and feeding skills. The workshop is highly experiential in nature.

The workshop enables the participant to--

  • understand the interactive role played by beliefs and attitudes, the mealtime partnership, mealtime communication, gastrointestinal comfort, sensory processing, positioning and movement, and oral feeding abilities in the development of mealtime skills

  • identify the key issues that influence a child’s ability to eat and drink happily and efficiently

  • understand and implement an appropriate division of responsibility at mealtimes

  • help children develop greater trust and confidence in their relationship to food

  • develop children’s inner ability to self-regulate eating and drinking

  • introduce new foods into a child’s diet

  • create comfortable, happy mealtimes

  • create a positive mealtime for children who eat through a feeding tube

  • develop a trust-based treatment program that nourishes the child's ability to develop and enhance feeding skills

  • develop a home-centered program to develop skills to support feeding and mealtimes



Course content is presented in a multimedia, experiential format. Audiovisual materials, small group discussion, problem-solving sessions, movement exploration, and accelerated learning technology assist each participant to enhance skills used in becoming a full mealtime partner for children with oral-feeding problems. A limit in group size to 10 participants assures each participant of individual attention and consideration of specific questions and problems. Question and answer forums will address critical questions and concerns. The workshop provides a special opportunity to brainstorm and network with other parents and professionals facing similar challenges.


Specific Topics

  • foundations for assessment and treatment of feeding and mealtime issues—

    • beliefs and attitudes

    • physical coordination

    • sensory comfort and integration

    • gastrointestinal comfort

    • oral-sensorimotor coordination

  • positive mealtimes for everyone

  • creating a nourishing, supportive environment for learning to eat

  • building sensory and gastrointestinal comfort at mealtimes

  • developing efficient sucking, swallowing, biting and chewing skills

  • readiness for weaning from a feeding tube

  • mealtime partners (children, parents, therapists)

  • the family-centered program

  • therapeutic approaches to daily activities


Three Mealtime Partners Workshops will be offered during 2006. Parents and professionals who have completed the workshop are eligible to participate in telephone or video consultations through the Mealtime Outreach Services.

2018 Workshop Dates:

  • October 26 - 28, 2018


Workshop Location

Mealtime Partners Workshops are held at New Visions in Virginia, near the town of Nellysford. We are located in a rural setting in the serene atmosphere of the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountain foothills 30 miles southwest of Charlottesville, Virginia. Participants lodge at a nearby bed & breakfast. Rooms are attractive and moderately priced.



Suzanne Evans Morris, Ph.D., is a speech-language pathologist in private practice. She is nationally and internationally known for her work in identifying and treating young children with pre-speech and language disorders. Dr. Morris maintains a practice which includes direct clinical work, continuing education workshops, development of clinical materials and clinical research. She is the director of New Visions, which sponsors innovative workshops for the teaching of feeding-related skills, and provides family-oriented clinical services. Dr. Morris has studied Neurodevelopmental Treatment approaches extensively in England, Switzerland, and the United States. She is the author of the Pre-Speech Assessment Scale,a rating scale for the measurement of pre-speech behaviors in children from birth through two years, and coauthor of Pre-Feeding Skills: A Comprehensive Resource for Feeding Development,and the Mealtime Participation Guide.

Suzanne has studied accelerated learning approaches and technology through the Optima Learning Institute, the Center for Accelerated Learning and The Monroe Institute. She is a folk musician who blends her musical background with an intimate knowledge of movement, sensory processing, communication and learning.


2018 Fees

  • Regular Workshop Fee $950

  • Workshop Partner Fee $900 -- when two or more participants represent one child in the same workshop.

Fee includes

  • 3-day workshop

  • 3 lunches

  • workshop manual

  • two-hour review of a child’s videotape and written materials.

For more detailed information on the workshop go to Mealtime Partner's Workshop. For Frequently Asked Questions, see FAQS.

To register for the workshop — call (434) 361-2285 or e-mail



The Mealtime Outreach Program provides opportunities for telephone consultation and video consultation for parents and professionals who have attended the Mealtime Partners Workshop.

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