The Critical Role of Nutrition in Therapy

This guest blog was written by Betsy Hjelmgren, MS, RDN, CSP, LDN, owner and founder of Feed to Succeed.

Essential to every person, especially a growing child, is healthy nutrition. This is especially true for children who require therapy for health issues. As a registered dietitian, not a day goes by that I Blog-Nutrition-Main-Landscapeam not reminded that proper nutrition underlies the health and well being of every child.

I recently worked with an early intervention (EI) patient with developmental delays. When we first met, he wasn’t meeting the expected milestones for his age, such as walking and talking. His parents and therapists complained that he lacked energy whenever they tried to work with him, and yet, when they encouraged him to eat, he was too tired and weak for this seemingly simple task. I recommended a feeding tube for the short term, and in one month, the child gained three pounds and began to walk and talk.

Of course, not every child who would benefit from working with a registered dietitian requires such intensive therapy. Many children, however, do benefit from an adjustment in their diets so that they have the energy and strength to meet milestones in therapy and can improve outcomes.

A child who doesn’t have the proper building blocks in his muscle and nerve endings needs proper nutrition in order to thrive in occupational or physical therapy, for example. Similarly to a garden, where a plant needs soil, nutrition and water to grow, a child needs proper food, nutrition and care to ensure the best outcome in his development.

While all children who don’t receive proper nutrition cannot function to their highest potential, in some cases, it is not obvious that they are lacking nutrition. It’s once a child responds to a new diet that it is obvious how effective nutrition is. For example, a child who is allergic to cow milk may not be getting enough protein to build muscle and may not be growing as tall as she could. Nutrition guidance, education and support can provide a more well-rounded diet.

Following is a screening tool for parents to use in order to determine when a child would benefit from receiving nutrition therapy:

  • A child who has not gained weight over 2-3 consecutive months or has not grown in height over 3-6 months
  • A child who frequently has a poor appetitive or is extremely picky
  • A child who seems thin, tired or pale
  • A child who has frequent chronic constipation or vomits
  • A child who completely avoids certain food groups
  • A child on a modified or restricted diet.
  • A child who receives supplemental feedings, such as a feeding tube or Pediasure

NSPT offers services in Bucktown, Evanston, Highland Park, Lincolnwood, Glenview, Lake Bluff, Des Plaines, Hinsdale and Milwaukee. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates!

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BetsyBetsy Hjelmgren, is the owner and founder Feed to Succeed in Glenview, Ill. She has been a registered dietitian, licensed in the State of Illinois, for over a decade. Registered dietitians are the only nutrition experts regulated by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, and licensed to provide professional nutrition advice. Betsy is credentialed with Early Intervention for qualifying children aged 0-3 years old and is also the mother of two children. Follow her on Twitter @feedtosucceed and on Facebook.

The Cost of Early Intervention

The Cost Of Early Intervention



The Illinois Department of Human Services can help to get you in contact with a Child and Family Connections (CFC) office to begin the Early Intervention process for your child.  What some families may not be aware of is there is a cost associated with ongoing Early Intervention services.

The initial evaluation and parent meeting, referred to as an Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP), are freeThe Cost of Early Intervention services to help determine if your child is eligible to receive Early Intervention services.  If eligibility is met and the family wishes to move forward with treatment sessions, a monthly payment called a Family Participation fee ranging from $0-$200 may be billed to the family.  The monthly payment will depend on household income and the size of your family.  The service coordinator at your CFC office can help to determine what your monthly expense may be.

To determine which CFC you should contact for your area, visit the DHS website.

If a family has a private insurance policy, such as Blue Cross/Blue Shield, United Health Care, or any others, you may be able to bill your treatment sessions to your private insurance.  Then you may be able to forward your out of pocket expense to the Early Intervention program so that your out of pocket cost is less than just using your private insurance.

Please note that the situations mentioned may not be typical for all families, and consulting with a service coordinator at you local CFC office is the best option to determine your costs for Early Intervention services.

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview, Lake Bluff and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

Early Intervention

Early Intervention: How to Get Started

Many families may be familiar with the services provided by the Illinois Department of Human Services (DHS), one being Early Intervention (EI).  This service is available to children in Illinois, ages 0-3 years old who may have a disability and/or delay.  Special qualifying criteria must be met in order to receive services from an EI credentialed provider.  Services provided can include occupational therapy, physical therapy, nutrition, social work/counseling services, speech therapy, and many more.

There are two most common methods of starting the investigation process to determine if your child is eligible for EI services:

  1. Use the DHS Office Locator link to locate and EI office within your area.  Contact the Child andEarly Intervention: How To Get Started Family Connections office that results in the search, and speak with a service coordinator to complete an intake about your child and why you are seeking an evaluation. Families may also call the DHS office locator at 800-323-4769 to inquire about an EI evaluation for their child.
  2. Talk to your child’s pediatrician.  They are the best person to speak to about child development and milestones.  They are very familiar with EI services, and can recommend which Child and Family Connections office to call to request an evaluation.  The pediatrician may even recommend a provider to specifically request when you call about an evaluation.

In order to begin an EI evaluation, an intake with your local Child and Family Connections office must take place so that they may then help find an EI credentialed provider to complete your child’s evaluation.

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview, Lake Bluff and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!