Hi, my name is Ashley and I have food and sensory issues...
CP is a mixed bag of gifts and troubles. Sensory Integration Disorder is one of the... not so nice parts about it. I have sensory needs that directly impact my life. One of the biggest issues I have is around food- I have an almost phobic reaction when presented with and expected to eat "new" foods. (For those of you who are coming to Orlando, no worries. People can eat whatever they want around me)
The other piece to my food puzzle is anxiety. CP affected my swallowing fairly significantly when I was a baby, so people were *very* anxious while feeding me. I picked up on that, and became anxious about food in response.
I was giving some ideas on another blog as to how someone's kiddo with sensory issues might be able to eat a wider variety of healthy foods, and promised to post about my own strategies. Here they are, in no particular order.
- Relax, relax, relax: Make mealtimes and food as easy as possible. Do not bribe or punish for refusing or trying new foods. Praise, even just for having something new on the plate, however, is good
- Supplement: Until the kiddo is able to eat a wide variety of foods, use pediasure and or vitamins to make sure nutritional needs are being met. (This helps a lot with relaxing) You may need to have bloodtests done, especially for B12. I was severely lacking in B12, and I choose to supplement through monthly injections
- Offer, offer offer: While giving your kiddo what they are able to eat, don't be afraid to offer what you might be eating. Do this in a no-pressure way. Your kiddo might surprise you and say yes one of these days
- Positive Peer Pressure: Have your child watch others eat- People they look up to or respect. Lunch dates with older siblings or heroes is a great idea. Give your child things they are comfortable eating, but offer what the other person is eating too. This can also help with a really embarrassing issue that can come up: Not knowing *how* to eat a certain food because you've never eaten it before. Example- How do you eat pizza? How do you pick up a chicken wing? Sometimes "monkey see monkey do" is less scary than asking
Finally, this is my method for trying a new food. It might take several "offerings" but it works for me.
- Get used to the smell of the food. Maybe even sniff it.
- Poke it with one finger (you would be surprised how hard this can be!)
- "Play" in it with the proper utensil- How does it feel on the spoon or fork or chopstick?
- Put it in your mouth- Have a napkin nearby. How does it feel on your tongue? If you need to spit it out, that's okay.
If all of these steps yield positive results I can usually add the food to my "I can eat it" list.