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