I always knew there was something different about Cam. Something different, and special. As Cam was my first (and unexpected) baby, I took off into motherhood flying very much by the seat of my pants, blissfully uninformed about exactly what kind of flight I was on. It wasn’t long, however, before some unusual weather patterns began popping up on my radar. And that’s when the bumpy ride really started.
As an infant she struggled with all her might against going to sleep at night, but the minute Cam was strapped into her baby swing, her little round face relaxed, and she drifted off into peaceful slumber. An unavoidable disaster struck when she eventually outgrew the swing. We were both in tears every night until she gradually adjusted to our new routine of rocking in the rocking chair and singing good-night songs before falling asleep. Yes, she did finally learn how to go to sleep. But it took nearly 3 years for her to learn how to stay that way. For nearly three years I would wake with her at least five times every night, until gradually I adjusted. To interrupted sleep, to inadequate sleep, to going to work in the morning with my underwear inside out and my shirt on backwards. You do get used to it.
Even as a baby, Cam strenuously rejected every attempt at introducing solid food. She would gag on even the smoothest of purees. At the time, this did seem odd, but I was reassured by her pediatrician and by my friends, who promised me that she would come to accept baby food, that I just needed to keep trying. But they were wrong. She never did eat baby food. As a toddler my girl was painfully hesitant to take her first steps, and would almost sheepishly revert to crawling at every opportunity. She felt safer closer to the ground. For months I watched her, knowing she could walk if she could only gain the confidence to try it. …continue reading
How many times were we told as children: “Clean your plate”, “Don’t talk with your mouth full”, “Don’t play with your food”? I’m not saying that our mothers, and those generations of mothers before us, were wrong. But sometimes rules are made to be broken. And when you are a mother of a child who has sensory processing disorder, often those rules are thrown out the window altogether. But that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and it doesn’t mean that the children are running wild with no discipline at all. It simply means that the “rules” aren’t as important as the development of the child.
Here are some ways that we are breaking all of the rules, and loving it:
1. Don’t play with your food: A huge part of JC’s therapy for tactile aversion is messy play and we often use food for this. If he can’t stand to touch applesauce, he will never eat it! So desensitizing him to the feel of those textures is an important way to pave the path for him to eventually explore them with his mouth. Creating a fun activity with those items that he avoids reduces the anxiety that he feels and will hopefully allow him to associate food with fun rather than pain, angst and fear.
2. Clean your plate: When a child has anxiety related to food, adding to that anxiety by forcing them to eat is going to be counter-productive. I have even found that limiting the amount of food that I put on JC’s plate helps this anxiety level a great deal. If he has more than a few bites on his plate at once, it seems too overwhelming and he will push the plate away and refuse to eat altogether. Likewise, if there is more than one type of food on his plate, its harder to get him to eat anything at all. So I try using separate bowls so that he can focus on one item at a time. It also helps that he knows he can push one bowl away and still have the other to eat from. I also only put a small amount out at first. If he starts to eat it, he will usually ASK for more which gives him a more proactive role in the meal-time process. …continue reading