When it comes to tube feeding, Dubbo mum Amy McIntyre would like it to be talked about a bit more.
Mrs McIntyre's six-year-old son Max has been tube fed since he was nine-months-old, and although it is a normal feeding process she said it sometimes feels as though it isn't being responded to as one.
Feeding Tube Awareness Week, which runs from February 2 to 8, will focus the spotlight on tube feeding and the day-to-day impact it has on individuals, carers and their families.
Mrs McIntyre said it would be great if more people had a wider understanding around tube feeding.
"It would be really nice if more people had a better understanding of tube feeding.
"It's important to know what it is. And it would be really, really nice if schools and communities raised more conversations around it.
"I would love people to view it as just another way of eating. Max might be thirsty or hungry at any time during the day, just like anyone else, and that might be when we're out in public, and it does come with a lot of staring eyes. But it doesn't need to be something that people gawk at."
Tube feeding is a method of feeding food liquids or formula into the body for those who are unable to eat or are unable to get enough to meet nutritional needs due to a variety of different reasons.
The two most common feeding tubes are a nasogastric tube (NG), which is a tube that is put up the nose and down into the stomach and is mostly used for short term tube feeding, and a gastrostomy feeding tube called a percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy (PEG).
The PEG is placed in the stomach during a procedure and is used for medium to long term feeding.
The National patient advocacy organisation for eosinophilic gastrointestinal disorders, ausEE, reports individuals experience social stigma, associated anxiety and a general lack of support, understanding and awareness in the community.
Some of the issues faced are limited access to education and training on tube feeding for family members, childcare and schools, portability of feeds, access to medical services in regional and rural areas and lack of tube weaning programs.
ausEE reported there are also inequities in financial assistance being provided for tube feeding supplies and respite for carers. Support groups and links to practical resources on feeding tubes can be found at www.feedingtubeaware.com.au.