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sensory food aversion

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  • sensory food aversion

    My son is 3.5 y/o and has been working with a speech therapist for about 8 months. He has not made a ton of progress, and for meals he is very limited to a handful of options. He eats no vegetables, and very little meat. He is at a normal weight and is very healthy despite his very selective eating (as we usually work with him to find something he is able to eat). He has sensory reactions when presented with foods he will not eat. It causes him to shut down and get very sad. I have gently tried to just have it be on his plate, but not make him eat it. I am very pro AP, but my DH is less so. My ds has some other sensory issues that we are working with an OT on.

    My issue is, we were referred to a child psychologist that runs a feeding program to help kids like my son. I think our speech therapist feels like she is not really getting anywhere and wants to try something else. So we met with this doctor, and their feeding program is super structured, not allowing the kids to say no...not letting them get up from the table until they eat their goal of x number of bites. There is some rewards too like playing with this toy or that toy after you meet the goal. They don't force feed them, but they make it very uncomfortable to say no, not allowing them to use the coping mechanisms that they have in place when a certain food stresses them out. She said they will sit with the spoon up to their lips and follow their mouth till they finally take a bite, up to an hour if need be.

    DS had very severe reflux as an infant till he was about 18 months old, and she attributes that combined with the fact that he was a little premature to most of these issues. I want my DS to have a normal relationship with food, not fearing food or any situations that can cause issues like family gatherings, school, peer gatherings. She told us that she doesn't believe he will get better without some stronger intervention. I want to equip him to cope with life going forward, but I just have this pit in my stomach as this is obviously NOT AP...and shows him no respect.

    Any input would be much appreciated

  • #2
    Your son sounds very much like my oldest. We did find some success through an SLP. Like you, I was uncomfortable with the force of other therapists. My son is now 9. He still does not eat much. He calls himself a vegetarian, but he doesn't eat much in the way of fruits/veggies either. Our best method of nutrition is through packed pancakes. He eats them every day. They have asparagus, sweet potato, carrots, zuccini, and more. We do our best to get other things into him throughout the day. Through the SLP, he started drinking V-Fusion. Eating in social situations is not easy, but he can usually find something. Of course, that's no guarantee and so we usually have him eat first or pack something for him. I don't know if we have done what is "right", but we have done what feels right. Our son doesn't have what I would call a great relationship with food, but he also doesn't have any trauma associated with food. I don't know if this is helpful, but I do empathize with you in that feeding our children can cause such deep anxiety as a parent. I've lost many nights sleep over it. Good luck to you!


    • #3
      thanks for your quick response. My dh really wants to try this method of therapy, and as we have tried it "my" way for 8 months with very little progress, I have a hard time saying no because we want the same outcome. I did set up some appointments for the feeding sessions (2 weeks, 3x week) starting in July...but I just don't feel great about it. He is the least defiant child I have ever met, and I just don't want to "break his spirit" just so that he will eat normally. I think I would feel different if he was underweight or not eating at all, requiring tube feeding etc. Ugh, the more I think about it the more conflicted I feel.


      • #4
        I totally understand the conflictedness. I think I would have taken a harder line, but my dh actually opposed doing something more firm. It's good that you see that you both have the same goals for your child. It's good groundwork for future conflict. There's no easy answer, I guess, but remember that you don't have to marry any idea. If you try something and it doesn't work or feels wrong, you can always quit.