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Course Dates

October 29-31, 2021

Instructor:  Suzanne Evans Morris, Ph.D.,
Location: 1124 Roberts Mountain Road

Faber, VA 22938
Phone: (434) 361-2285

Course Objectives

The Mealtime Partners workshop 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.

The program is based on a trust model of intervention which suggests that 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. Understanding mealtimes and the child’s comfort and desire to learn to eat are the most important elements of the workshop. 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.

The workshop will enable 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 food tastes and consistencies 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


All participants send a videotape and extensive written information on a specific child a month before the workshop. Suzanne Morris spends more than 2 hours reviewing and integrating each participants information before the workshop begins. Children do not attend the workshop. A limit in group size to 12 participants assures each participant of individual attention and concern with specific questions and problems.

  • Mealtime Guidelines

  • Beliefs and Attitudes

  • Learning and Change

  • Mealtime Communication

  • Oral Feeding Skills

  • Positioning and Movement

  • Sensory Processing

  • Gastrointestinal Comfort

  • Understanding the Issues

  • Making Choices

  • 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

Workshop content is taught through the metaphor of weaving a tapestry. In creating a tapestry strands of a single color may be used to simultaneously create the focus of the woven painting, and the supporting or background colors for another area of the picture. There is a structure and pattern, yet a non-linear approach to content at the same time. For this reason it is inappropriate to give participants a linear time-based schedule. Each day will have a focus and information from previous days and future days will be woven into the topic being discussed. Treatment concepts and specific strategies for intervention will be introduced each day through connections with the feature topic


  • Regular Workshop Fee $950

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



  • 3-day workshop

  • Lunch for 3 days

  • Workshop manual

  • Two-hour pre-workshop review of child's videotape and written materials


A non-refundable deposit of $350 must accompany the registration.

If cancellation is made within 7 days of enrolling for a workshop, the full amount of the deposit is returned. If the cancellation occurs more than 30 days before the workshop, $100 of the deposit can be applied to workshops scheduled within the next 12 months and $250 of the deposit is non-refundable. If a participant cancels less than 30 days before a workshop, the entire deposit is non-refundable.


Please call Suzanne Morris at (434) 361-2285 to enroll. 
Enrollment is limited to 12 persons. 
Registration must be received at least 4 weeks prior to the workshop (i.e. October 1, 2021).
Registration will be confirmed by mail.


Lodging is available at local motels or bed & breakfast homes.


The New Visions House is located 40 miles from the Charlottesville, VA airport, 30 miles from the Charlottesville Greyhound bus station, 100 miles from the Richmond, VA airport and 140 miles from Washington Dulles airport. Most participants who are flying choose to rent a car at the airport and drive to New Visions.

Mealtime Partners Starter Kit 

The Mealtime Partners Starter Kit brings together a set of carefully selected books that open the doorway to understanding the many components that contribute to happy, efficient, and skillful mealtimes. Strategies and specific activities to support the development of children’s mealtime and eating skills are featured in each book.

Books from the Starter Kit must be read or reviewed by each participant prior to the workshop. This special collection includes the following books:

  • 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.


Because of the small size and diversity of workshop participants, continuing education credits are not offered directly by New Visions for this workshop. Participants can arrange for CEUs from their professional organization through other means. Talk to Suzanne Morris for more detailed information.

Frequently Asked Questions 
See our FAQs About New Visions Workshops for answers to more of your questions about the workshop.


The workshop will be taught with a global view of the nature of oral feeding and mealtime challenges and the many ways in which a child and family can develop feeding skills within a positive mealtime environment. The teaching style reflects a belief that a wide variety of learning activities will enhance the capacity of the whole brain for learning. Varied activities will meet the needs of persons with a wide variety of learning styles. The following components will be included in the learning experience of the participants. Changes based on time and participant preferences may be made in this learning agenda.

Slides and Videotapes
A wide variety of audio-visual materials will be used to develop visual recognition of supportive and non-supportive mealtimes and the many reasons why children have difficulty with wanting to eat or in developing the sensory skills and oral feeding movements that support eating a diversified diet. The videos also demonstrate a variety of treatment techniques and concepts. Many of these videotapes are personally selected from the library of Suzanne Morris to address the specific issues of the workshop participants.

Child and Family Focused Discussions 
Each workshop participant comes with the intention to focus on the needs and abilities of a specific child and family.   Videos of the child's mealtime and playtime and written materials that describe and illustrate the child’s strengths and needs are sent to Suzanne Morris a month before the workshop.   Participant learning styles and needs and the most important questions to address during the workshop are also submitted.    This gives Suzanne the opportunity to become familiar with the child, family and therapist issues before the workshop begins.   Opportunities are provided throughout the workshop for dialogues and discussions that support each participant’s ability to understand the issues and make relevant choices and decisions related to their child’s feeding and mealtime needs.  Suggestions for home and therapy interventions are integrated into family care-giving routines, rather than listed as a set of separate exercises that must be done each day.

Written Materials
The books in the Mealtime Partners Starter Kit (i.e. Pre-Feeding Skills: A Comprehensive Resource for Mealtime Development, 2nd edition,  Feeding with Love and Good Sense, and Happiness is a Choice) provide the basic reading materials for the workshop. Each participant is responsible for purchasing and reading the books prior to the workshop. Additional materials will be provided in a detailed workshop manual. This allows a greater proportion of the workshop time to be spent in observation and problem solving. It also enables the participant to efficiently review the workshop content after returning home.

A minimal amount of formal lecture is included in the workshop. Concepts presented in the written materials are discussed and amplified through a combination of informal commentary, guided imagery, and audiovisual support. Participants are encouraged to participate in the discovery of the underlying principles of becoming a mealtime partner who supports discovery and learning in the child. This basic approach is the foundation upon which feeding skills are built.

Feeding and Mealtime Experiences
Normal and limiting movements of the body and mouth will be explored during a feeding activity. Self-discovery will allow participants the opportunity to observe primary problems, compensations and interaction with the feeder. Additional sessions may provide experience with the basic principles of positioning and handling.


Hemi-Sync will be incorporated into the program to provide a sense of bodily relaxation combined with a clear mental focus of attention for learning. The process uses specific sound patterns, presented stereophonically, to produce a balanced activity of both hemispheres of the brain. Hemi-Sync signals will be combined with soft background music during many sessions to help focus attention for learning and increase the ease with which concepts and skills are understood and applied. Additional tapes will be available during afternoon and evening breaks for participants who wish to use them to facilitate further study or relaxation.

Guided Imagery
Imagery will be utilized during the workshop to enhance learning and to allow a type of "hands-on" rehearsal of assessment and treatment approaches. Guided imagery allows the participant to create a multi-sensory environment for the learning process. Research has shown that concept learning, memorization, and rehearsal of motor skills is enhanced by the creation and manipulation of images in the mind.

Resource Libraries
The availability of several resource libraries will enable participants to personally direct their learning in areas of interest. A selection of books and journal articles will be available for browsing. A tape library contains a wide selection of music, and learning tapes. All materials may be checked out during the workshop. An equipment resource area encourages exploration of the wide variety of therapy-support materials available through the Mealtimes Catalog.



Registration is scheduled between 8:00 and 8:30 A.M. This is followed by the first full-day of the workshop. Participants are encouraged to arrive in the area Thursday evening so that they can rested for the workshop


Daily Schedule
Each day has a predictable structure for comfort and learning. The general schedule blocks for Friday and Sunday are as follows:



Arrive at New Visions House


Morning Session


Lunch and Afternoon Break


Afternoon Session


Afternoon Session Ends

Afternoon Break 
Extended afternoon breaks provide opportunities for relaxing, enjoying our beautiful Blue Ridge Mountain outdoors, visiting and exploring with friends, and visiting our special resource rooms and digesting the morning workshop ideas. A lovely and nourishing lunch is held at the nearby Fallen Oak Bed & Breakfast.

Saturday Schedule 
Our schedule on Saturday offers participants an extended period to relax or visit places of interest in the area. Our afternoon break will extend from 1:00 to 5:00. We will then gather at The New Visions House for a dinner picnic and continue our learning session until 8:30 p.m.

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