It’s been too long since my last blog post. After a few months of a hiatus, it’s like I’m starting over. Only this time it’s not all bad news. At least it shouldn’t be. Why then do I feel like the first verse of Robert Frost’s poem “The Road Not Taken” sums up what I’m about to write?
“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;”
We’ve come to that point in the therapy world where we have to make life-altering decisions. One that affect us (financially more than anything) but affects “B” so much more. We’ve taken a 3 month break from food school. B’s therapist went on maternity leave back in October. I’m going to be completely honest here. I haven’t really been following through with her food program here at home, and to be honest she hasn’t really regressed. She also hasn’t made a ton of forward progress either. So it’s here we have to decide. Do we keep up with the program, or do we kiss her therapist for all her hard work and say goodbye?
Actually, lunch in the cafeteria has been fan-flippin-tastic! She knows when she needs to move and asks the lunch lady when needed. The rest of the time she tolerates the food and smells so much better than my husband and I ever imagined! At home, things are a different story. She continues to need the candle lit for various smells. She has to sit in the chairs at the table away from everyone else. She continues to have about 10 foods she’ll eat consistently. Of course, she has made small attempts to taste new foods (like the caramel apple cookie she tried at our family’s Christmas event). Oh, and after much reassurance, there was the time she tried the red/green salsa chips which tasted exactly the same as the ones she normally eats (she was totally thrown by their colors). However, we’re still stuck on the same 10 foods.
“Food chaining” is one of those terms you hear a lot in the “resistive eating” realm. Food chaining is where you try to get your child to branch out and introduce new foods that build on the characteristics and properties of the foods they currently eat. For example, B eats Tyson chicken nuggets. Food chaining would be trying a couple of different types of chicken nuggets. Once she accepts those, you’d move to chicken fingers, then chicken strips, then chicken patties, and finally work your way towards non-breaded chicken. For resistive eaters, it’s often times more complicated than that. Especially those with sensory challenges on top of eating issues. B has issues with certain textures, tastes, and appearances; so, even the slightest difference in chicken nugget brands cause her to turn up her nose and refuse to learn about them.
It’s this challenge that puts me back on that road. I stare ahead. I wish I could take them both. I wish I could see years down the road. Which one equals fear-from-food freedom? Do we continue to pour large sums of money into this program that has given us positive glimpses into mealtime frustrations, or do we continue to let her grow, play, work on her sensory diet in hopes that she will eventually “mature” out of her fear of eating? Does one road lead to a lifetime of picky eating? Does the other lead to a love of food?
I know Robert Frost’s answer. Take the road less traveled. We’ve done that, and while it has given B some tremendous coping strategies; it still hasn’t led us to where we want her to be. However, without food school B wouldnt’ be where she is today. If therapy were free, this decision would be so much easier I do plan on talking to her therapist about my concerns, but ultimately we (her parents) will make the decision on which road she’ll take. We only hope and pray that the road we choose is the better path for B’s future.