Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Normal is boring, right? RIGHT???

So I am officially giving up home-based feeding therapy. My child will starve himself rather than eat pizza without pepperoni. He cried last night when I asked him to try a french fry. Going to other friend's houses is dicey: if they have little tiny ones I can usually count on there being something for Sam to eat, but otherwise I haul in my own food for him, mostly consisting of macaroni and cheese packets.

The constant fighting to try to get him to try new foods is exhausting, and it doesn't seem to be working. I've tried "chaining" food, and we make no progress. We were making some good progress with tolerating new vegetables on the plate, but it pretty much stopped there. I could get him up to licking the new food but no further.

It's the anxiety around food that is worrisome to me. He's not just picky--he has a clearly defined set of allowable and non-allowable foods, and attempts to add to that list bring about some pretty severe reactions. I know that lots of parents think you can just ask them to try a new food and as long as you keep presenting it that everything will work out, but dude. We are not there. We haven't been there. We've been working towards that for like, four years. And I. Give. Up. I am out of my depth with this.

Sam has an evaluation for occupational therapy in May, and they assured me that feeding therapy can be part of that. I've always thought he doesn't have sensory issues informing his feeding problems, because texture doesn't seem to be a problem for him. But there is something off about his reaction to food, and man. I just want someone professional to either say "This is all in your head, he's a picky eater and he'll grow out of it and he's fine" or "Yeah, you're right, he needs some help with this issue and here are the tactics we can use to help him."

Part of having a kid with special needs is you start to see everything through the special needs filter. Is he just a picky eater who gets dramatic about being asked to try new foods or does he have Food Issues? Is he just a kid who laughs at things that aren't that funny or is it Inappropriate Laughter? Does he just like to dance and contort his body or is he Having Sensory and Proprioceptive Issues? Sometimes I feel like I don't even know what "normal" looks like anymore.

I'm really looking forward to getting him into OT so we can figure out what we need to work on with him and what is just a normal part of being four.


  1. I think it's awesome that you've been able to do what you have done with Sam regarding food, and I think that having a OT let you know if it's Food Issues or just a picky phase may help with some of your stress. At least, I *hope* it helps. I've been blessed with a pretty good eater, and I still get frustrated that E is turning up her nose at broccoli all of a sudden and will start eating like a bird from time to time. You are a stronger mom than I would be in your situation, I think.

  2. He sounds exactly like my kid. And while I am in no way qualified to make the following statement, I am of the opinion that a person's level of pickiness is inborn, and there isn't much a parent can do about it. I base this on the fact that my husband is ridiculously picky, so how could I expect our child to be anything but picky? If I hear one more person brag about how awesome an eater her kid is because of her dedication to exposing him to a variety of foods, I will punch that person in the face.

    Like you, I have mostly given up when it comes to food issues. There are three people in my family, and I'm basically making three separate dinners, and those who brag about how awesome they are with their "eat what I make or starve" policy can just suck it.

    Still, I stress a lot about this stuff. It's so hard to go to a gathering of a bunch of kids and have my kid be the only one who refuses to eat what is being served. And we usually can't use the food to distract him into good behavior at restaurants, so all restaurants that are not McDonald's are stressful.

    And the other night I had to go to a meeting and my kid was going to hang out at my friend's house, and she was all, "Don't feed him first, he can eat with us," and I seriously stressed out about how they would judge me for my kid's not eating/poor table behavior, to the point that I was up half the night worrying about it the night before.

  3. "Have you tried mixing it up in a milkshake?" If I had a dollar for every time someone has suggested that I could pay for food therapy out of my own pocket.

    How did it go with your friend? My advice would be to just tell her upfront that your child has some issues around food and you are trying to work on them (even if that is a white lie) but it is very slow going and you are happy to provide a back-up packet of macaroni and cheese.

    My real issue with my son and food isn't so much that he's picky, because yeah. I'm not sure how much there is to do about that. It's the anxiety and distress that asking him to try new foods causes. For social reasons, I want him to be able to go to a friend's house for dinner, take one bite of the food he is served and then sit there calmly while the rest of the family finishes dinner (obviously this is a long-term goal).

  4. @TheRapunzelGirl--I thought kind of the same thing before I had Sam. The amazing, wonderful thing about special needs parenting is you are strong enough to do it. You are strong enough to do whatever your child needs. It can be hard, and bitter, and lonely, and unfair (and dude, my kid's special needs freaking PALE in comparison to what many other parents have to deal with) but at the end of the day you just buck up and do what your child needs. I've discovered a wellspring of patience I never knew existed, and I am constantly digging deeper into that well.