Published by Amy Delaney, PhD, CCC-SLP on Mar 22, 2023

As we approach our 10th Annual International PFD Conference, I look forward to learning from expert colleagues about new ideas and strategies that we can use in the care of children with PFD. It comforts me knowing that Feeding Matters has worked diligently to offer content that has been both reviewed for bias and is rooted in evidence. This makes me reflect on the current educational landscape and how it has changed over time.

Thinking back to when I first entered the field (and yes, I’m aging myself), sources for educational content were textbooks and hard copies of journal articles, either arriving in my mailbox or checked out by me at the library.    Unfortunately, these old-school sources were nearly outdated by the time they entered my hands.   In-person conferences were the only method for me to learn what things were at the cutting edge from my peers and scientists in the field.

Learning today has never been easier! Today’s technology affords endless formats and venues from which we receive information. We have access to first-hand information directly from researchers, clinical experts, and parents. We see examples of different disorders and impairments and clinically validated intervention strategies while standing in line for coffee, or even while on a walk.

Unfortunately, access to everything all the time can be overwhelming, and it may be difficult for a learner to navigate material without a good understanding of its strengths and potential weaknesses. It may seem that everyone is an expert and it’s hard to discern that the information being shared may not be objective, evidence-based, and/or appropriately interpreted.  It may be difficult to know which sources to prioritize for one’s learning.

What are my best options? Who am I listening to and what is the underlying evidence? For social media, if one source has more followers than another, is it more likely to be correct or validated? Who is vetting the information? Here are a few pitfalls to keep in mind:

  1. Saying something with confidence and fancy graphics does not make it sound evidence.
  2. A greater number of followers does not guarantee information is superior to that from a source with fewer followers.
  3. Be mindful of individuals who discount or contradict what you have learned to be reliable and clinically validated information.
  4. Conversely, be mindful of individuals who purport that information is accurate because it’s how it has always been done.
  5. Is the information based on published studies or other peer-reviewed content?
  6. Is the source only promoting a product?
  7. Is the source acting in a professional manner that is ethical and considerate of other opinions?

As we continue to navigate our educational options, consider some of the following suggestions:

  1. Use multiple sources for learning. Maintain a broad diet of information that includes social media, webinars, and in-person meetings.  A broad educational repertoire is always best.
  2. Dig a little deeper into a new source of information. Learn about your favorite vloggers and what their experience may be. What is their profession and their training? What population of children do they see? Know who you are listening to and trusting to contribute to your clinical journey.
  3. Think critically about what you’re learning. Does it make sense? Does it continue to enhance your knowledge and practice? Does it contradict well-known evidence?
  4. Rely on your professional organizations to review the current state of information and evidence and provide experienced perspective on how new ideas may fit into established paradigms.
  5. Advocate that we need pediatric feeding and swallowing taught at the university level to give everyone a foundation.

We, as a community of PFD providers and families, must lift each other and support each other in our learning to advance the field and the lives of children and families with PFD.

Amy Delaney, PhD, CCC-SLP
PFD Alliance Education Chair

Why clinicians should attend the PFD conference

Published by Brianna Miluk, MS, MS, CCC-SLP, CLC on Mar 08, 2023

The Pediatric Feeding Disorder conference emphasizes kindness, community and communication

The first time I joined the International Pediatric Feeding Disorder (PFD) Conference, I sat alone in my sunny South Carolina office, anticipating a typical academic research virtual presentation that would count for some CEUs.

Instead, what I found was relatable and practical content that I wanted to share with every clinician I knew.

Brianna Miluk, MS, MS, CCC-SLP, CLC and PFD Conference Committee Member
Brianna Miluk, MS, MS, CCC-SLP, CLC and PFD Conference Committee Member

I’ll never forget a particular workshop by Dr. Kay Toomey on Picky Eaters vs. PFD vs. ARFID: Differential Diagnosis Decision Tree. At one point, I got so excited about the presentation that I leaped out of my chair and clapped enthusiastically. Now, anyone who knows me sees that I have a lot of energy, so this wasn’t totally out of character. Still, I’ll admit I looked a little strange in my office, shouting with glee. When my husband came running, I couldn’t resist exclaiming, “THIS IS SO GOOD!”

It’s no exaggeration to say that the first time I attended the Feeding Matters International Pediatric Feeding Disorder virtual conference in 2018, I was hooked.

The conference isn’t just an opportunity to check off your requirements box for ASHA, AOTA or ACCME. It’s a virtual gathering of clinicians and families all motivated by a singular goal: helping more children and families access the care they need for pediatric feeding disorder.

As part of the conference planning committee for 2023, I can attest that our goal for every presentation is to deliver practical takeaways for families and clinicians. This is part of what makes the PFD conference so powerful.

It’s tricky to organize a virtual conference. Besides any potential technical glitches, creating a sense of community and conversation is challenging. But the PFD conference is unlike any other I’ve attended. There’s a sense of kindness, community, and communication that all attendees feel throughout the program.

Quote pulled from text in graphic on PFD Conference value

What clinicians will benefit from the PFD conference

The PFD conference is ideal for any clinician serving children with feeding issues from birth through adulthood. This includes:

  • Occupational therapists
  • Speech and language pathologists
  • Dieticians
  • Physicians

Because the program is so family-driven, I even encourage caregivers to attend. Everyone benefits when they learn about different methods and what the research shows.

4 reasons to attend the PFD conference

There are many reasons to take time from your busy clinical schedule to attend the conference. The following are just a few.

Learn practical, innovative interventions and strategies – and how to apply them with families
Like any continuing education, the pediatric feeding disorder conference highlights the latest research and interventions. This conference is different because the presenters go one step further to show how to apply that information to our day-to-day work. Every course I attended focused on how an intervention is only as good as it is for an individual family. As a speech therapist, I see how this mindset matters. I can have all the research in the world at my fingertips, but it’s not practical if none of it works for the family in front of me. That clear focus across all the workshops means that at the PFD conference, I can walk away with strategies to apply immediately.

Build connections across fields
Making friends and forging new professional relationships is not usually a goal for a virtual conference, but that’s what happened at the PFD conference. The chat is active, and the people are friendly. I’ve made real-life friendships with clinicians in my area. I would never have met them outside of that opportunity.

When providers of various backgrounds work together, patients benefit.

Become a stronger advocate for clients
The PFD conference has helped me grow both in my practice and as a patient advocate. I’ve gained knowledge and leadership skills that help me articulate what my clients need, especially when working with other clinicians who aren’t as familiar with PFD and the diagnostic code.

Each year, I leave with a strong call to action to continue advocating for children with PFD and their families. The conference empowers clinicians to hold each other accountable for higher standards of care.

Raise awareness of how trauma-informed care relates to PFD
I’m most excited about this year’s conference’s keynote address, Healing Feeding Trauma: It takes a village, from Dr. Anka Roberto DNP, MSN-MPH, APRN, PMHNP-BC. Bridging the gap in education on how trauma-informed care is essential to treatment for PFD is so important. Spotlighting this topic as the keynote underscores how important it is to heal feeding trauma for the child and the entire family unit.

Every year I’ve attended the PFD conference is better than the last. I don’t doubt that this year’s 10th annual conference will be the best one yet. See you at the conference!

The 10th annual international PFD virtual conference is April 13-15. Register, see our schedule and speaker roster and more here.

Brianna (Bri) Miluk is a speech-language pathologist and certified lactation counselor in Greenville, South Carolina. She has a clinical focus on pediatric feeding and swallowing in infant and medically complex patient populations. Bri is an advocate for information literacy, evidence-based practice, and trauma-informed care, including neurodiversity-affirming practices. She is also an Instructor for Pennsylvania Western University. She is a PhD student with a research focus on disseminating or research and misinformation in speech language pathology on social media. She hosts the podcast, The Feeding Pod, and teaches the Pediatric Feeding Mentorship Group course. Follow her on Instagram @pediatricfeedingslp.