(Be sure to scroll down to see all the pictures)
We were going to some pretty big extremes to pull this off, but this was our last ditch effort at helping our child who had regressed significantly in her feeding issues. Kylie is now 8 years old and experiences Autism. One of the things that goes along with that diagnoses (for Kylie) is significant sensory issues which also create feeding issues.
Feeding issues can be sensory, psychological, emotional or physical.
And, let me share a personal note here... Feeding issues are HARD!! They are a continuous (multiple times a day) battle.
On most days, Kylie has to be hand fed (she doesn't want to touch food) and she has an extremely limited diet (usually only 5-7 select foods that she will eat. If she adds a food, she will usually reject a former favorite.) It takes months, even years for her to feel comfortable enough to be able to sit at the table with an unfamiliar food, smell or texture. Often times she will crawl UNDER the table and shout "It's fake! It's fake!" or she will go to another floor of the house to escape the foreign item.
This is one area that is quite frustrating for parents and caregivers as 1.) you eat 3x a day (and usually more) and 2.) The medical community doesn't address this issue unless a child LOOKS significantly malnourished. (with Autism, children tend to look very healthy but it is only because the foods they will tolerate are unhealthy and cause them to gain weight - this can be just as serious as (starving) undernourishment. Kids need certain vitamins, minerals and nutrients for proper brain development.)
Feeding is also difficult because so much of our every day world revolves around food! Holidays are all about food (other things too, but food is usually a central theme), birthday parties, classroom parties, summer fun, restaurants, family outings, state fairs, movie theaters, picnics, theme parks, and Vacation Bible School. Take food out of the equation, and things become quite difficult.
Just imagine Thanksgiving day with a child who wants nothing to do with the typical Thanksgiving Day feast!
While the medical community does not offer parents much in the way of hope, the therapy community does. But often the techniques go directly against everything you ever learned about etiquette, manners and in some cases healthy eating.
For example, to boost my daughter's metabolism and help her start to feel hunger (which she does not do naturally), we often give her a snack size candy bar before a meal. This would have been a HUGE no-no for a typical child, but it works for our unique child. Also, we encourage her to touch her food, blow bubbles through her straw into a drink, chew on ice, play with her food (ever try painting with colored pudding?) and many other typical taboos that usually encompass the label of "good manners." Now, imagine training a child care provider or grandparent on these techniques. Imagine the stares of shock from the parents sitting in the next booth to you in a restaurant. It can be quite difficult and you must develop thick skin to accommodate all the opinions out there!
We are fortunate that Kylie has an unusual attachment to books. During the time of this story, she had just been introduced to the book Pinkalicious by Victoria Kann and she quickly became hooked. She took the book with her everywhere and started to declare that Pink was her favorite color.
book. As parents, we loved it as it had wonderful illustrations of food (especially various green foods). So, I talked to Kylie's feeding therapist and asked her if she would consider doing something "out of the box" and make our next feeding session a Pinkalicious Party. We could make a big deal of it through the week and build it up so Kylie would have a level of excitement about it (Kylie really dislikes feeding therapy and asks us hopefully every week if her therapist is out sick). Kylie's therapist, Jenny at Childserve, agreed to the idea and we set to making plans.
On the day of the party, Kylie wore her best pink dress. She also brought her Pinkalicious book and her Pinkalicious doll (which is washable, I might add).
We even invited Daddy to take time off work to come with us to the party! When daddy arrived, he brought with him pink roses for "Kylie-licious"
We took a quick picture of Kylie with Pinkalicious, her Pinkalicious book and Miss Jenny. Then the party began!
It was amazing to see how Kylie was so willing to try new things. For some reason, having seen them in a book, made them more "safe".
There is a mirror on the wall, and they are looking at themselves eating the green peppers! Yes, I just said GREEN PEPPERS!!
They followed along in the Pinkalicious book...
AND... she liked it!!
Next, they tried watermelon... watermelon was super cool because it had BOTH pink AND green on it!!
She was a little unsure about the texture, but she did it!
They tried strawberries and strawberry ice cream, but THIS food is the one Kylie had been waiting for. Keep in mind, that Kylie wouldn't even go near cake or frosting before....We are getting ready to try Pink Cupcakes!
Even though they look super yummy, she still is afraid to actually touch them. So, she uses her tongue instead. This is a coping technique.
Touching was too much, so she decided to use her green pepper to dip it into the frosting!
Kylie then looked into the mirror and discovered that her tongue had a pink hue to it, so she declared that she was turning pink and needed to eat some green food!
It was HER IDEA!! (Can we say progress??)
It was such a GREAT and successful therapy day!!
And, yes, I know that mommy isn't featured in any of these photos, but you DO get to experience our world through my eyes!
There are many other books that you could use for an event such as this to assist with feeding issues. Here are a few that we enjoy!
These books are very helpful for understanding feeding issues:
My daughter chews on these all the time when she becomes overwhelmed, anxious or just needs deep joint pressure. They are amazing and keep her from chewing on non-edible objects and clothing. There are many scents and styles available...
we use this the Elephant Jiggler all the time, and his ear can double as a spoon! :0)