Fun with Food!

Welcome to Fun with Food! This site was designed to help parents and caregivers find, share and ask about fun foods for your selective toddler!

As a speech-language pathologist specializing in pediatric feeding and swallowing disorders, I encounter many children who have experienced negative associations surrounding food. These children often have accompanying oral motor feeding difficulties and sensory processing difficulties--making eating a very stressful experience instead of an enjoyable one.

This website will hopefully serve as an "idea place" for meals as well as questions and support from other parents and caregivers. Enjoy!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Breakthrough Moments





We all love breakthrough moments whether it be in therapy or just in the experiences of life! Lets take the first acceptance of more than one bite of an apple for example. What was 'ok' about the apple or the experience this time around? First of all most of the children seen for feeding therapy do have some inefficient compensatory strategies that are used to manipulate foods and in many cases those patterns appear to develop secondary to abnormal sensory experiences.

Of course some children do have limitations due to issues surrounding strength, tone or range of motion but in this post I am specifically referring to the child who has learned to 'chew' with lips closed, rolling food across the mouth, tongue mashing, 'suckling' food as a result of a combination of factors...not just oral motor. I feel this is sometimes overlooked as a child is put into a category of "sensory" or "oral motor" or strictly "behavioral"....when in fact there is likely many factors contributing.

A child who refuses an apple chunk may readily accept a very thin slice of apple. When looking at strictly sensory you may think "Well, it is visually more appealing, he likes the flat shape" or something to that affect. When looking at strictly oral motor one may say "This is easier to handle from an oral motor standpoint as the flatter, thinner shape is easier to chew".....when applying both sensory and oral motor I can see that the following is also true "The appearance is not only appealing, thus decreasing his anxiety, but he also knows that he can bite AND consistently chew this food creating a more normalized sensory response" The thickness of chunks may be overwhelming from both oral motor and sensory viewpoints resulting in "This is too hard to chew, too yucky feeling in my mouth, too painful to swallow whole...i'll either spit it out or refuse it all together!"

Point being...explore all possibilities and different angles before landing on your own conclusion prematurely! Know your child, observe his whole being, his reactions to sensory stimuli, the types of foods accepted vs the types of foods avoided. This does not always result in a clear pattern and despite identifying your child's favorite spices, flavors, textures, shapes, environments, etc underlying conditions play a role as well. Inconsistent feeding behaviors varying from accepting wide ranges of food one day and next to nothing the next or on another day could indicate gastrointestinal discomfort. This brings me back to the importance of NEVER assuming a child's feeding complication is strictly sensory, behavioral or oral motor. Those who know me know that I am opposed to some of the intensive feeding programs that are out there or behavior approaches that reinforce having to swallow food that is spit out or waiting the entire hour for a 'breakthrough' in which the child is broken down to try a bite. This is not the kind of breakthrough moment I like to experience with my own child or with any child in treatment! I realize each child is different and there is probably a basis for choosing that type of treatment, I hope to encourage parents to have patience as their child learns to eat in a happy and healthy way!








A breakthrough moment for one child may simply be pretending with the food



For another, it is dipping a food into a new sauce!










I wanted to share a sweet story of a little boy and his own breakthrough moment! The fact that these 'new finds' were carried over from the hospital to his home is a very big deal for Jackson and his family, way to go Jackson! Click on Marbles from Heaven to hear about his success!

4 comments:

BOWquet said...

Thank you so much for sharing your blog! I'll keep checking in :)

Kitchen Belleicious said...

Love your blog girl. I am so glad you found mine so I could find you. This is exactly what I was looking for back before I started Belleicious Kids. I would google forever all day long on what to do with a picky eater, solutions, problems, etc. It was driving me crazy. I am also a first time mom so it took me a while to chill out and go with it. Amazing how they go off our moods and attitudes isn't it.He is like a new kid now eating anything and everything and the weight lifted off my shoulders is indescribable. I hope your blog and mine will help other mother's out there! Xo
Jessica
www.belleiciouskids.com
www.kitchenbelleicious.com

Kristina--Picky Tots said...

Jessica,
I just looked at your kitchenbelleicious.com blog--YUM! thanks for sharing! I'm thankful for our new discoveries!

Katie said...

This is so fascinating! Thank you for commenting over at Yoga Gal, I really appreciate your feedback and the work that you do! :D