What does feeding therapy look like?

Thursday, February 21, 2013
I'm typing this on the ipad, so I apologize for the typos and weird formatting, because the ipad wont let me scroll down the compose window. weird. This is about 8-9 minutes long, and is mostly being posted for those who are curious about what Henry's feeding therapy actually looks like.

To recap, he goes twice a week for about 30-40 minutes. His SLP (speech and language pathologist) is fabulous and has already built a great rapport with him after 3 weeks.

He is now up to 6 new foods he has tried since starting (different flavors count as new, as well as different shapes--as in noodles) which include fig newtons, strawberry cereal bars, blueberry cereal bars, rigatoni noodles, apple cereal bars, and chicken fries. He's also put peanut butter and jelly back into his repertoire and has had grilled cheese again after refusing it for almost 2 months.

Some things I want to point out:

Henry needs this. His response to food, eating, trying new things and the amount he's willing to eat is NOT normal. Not even close. It's safe to say that it's never been normal. It goes well beyond the typical picky eater. I was a picky eater, but I ate hamburgers, hot dogs, macaroni and cheese, spaghetti, any pizza, corn dogs, grilled cheese, and all that other "kid stuff" growing up. I've accepted that he needs help and I'm so glad we've found a good fit and that he's already making changes.

You can see in the video the strategies Holly uses (and doesn't use).

-she doesn't push anything if he is clearly saying no. She will try again later, but there is no forcing, no tricking, no hiding.
-huge amounts of positive praise for even the smallest feat.
-Henry puts everything into his mouth himself. No forcing, all his choice. Eventually, you can see that after refusing the apple cereal bar for the first half of therapy, he ends the video willingly eating a giant chunk of it, because it was later paired with a choice between that and a tator tot (even more less desirable to him). And, in the process, obviously found out he liked apple ones too.

He's had three different flavors/brands of cereal bars this week. Three. I'm guessing the last time he ate a cereal bar was probably when he was around Claire's age. That would be over two years ago. Two years. I've bought them and offered them many times during that span, but never once did he even touch it. His first therapy session he wouldn't even tolerate it on his plate. You can see how distracting Claire is (well, maybe not, because I cut a lot of that out) and why we now sit in the waiting room so Henry has his full attention on the food and Holly. Every time he tries something new, he gets a smiley face sticker. For every five (one row full) he gets a pack of fruit snacks. Nice the whole chart is full, he will get a special toy. He's super motivated by this. There's a lot of first this, then that, as you can see towards the end with the flash cards. He saw them on her shelf and wanted to see them. First he had to take a bite of something new (I think that's when he tried the apple first)and then had to take subsequent bites to continue looking at the cards. He's really proud of himself. We're really proud of him. We have a long way to go, but meal times have already changed immensely for us and we appreciate everyone's support as we continue down this road of therapy, celebrating even the tiniest accomplishments, even if that means eating a new type of noodle. :)
Henry Feeding Therapy from Jenna Sefkow on Vimeo.

3 comments:

Krystal said...

I have been so interested to see and read about this. I had NO IDEA that they had such a thing as "food therapy" and as I read more and more from you, I come to realize that this is something my nephew needs badly. As you said, there is a difference in picky eating and this behavior. My nephew will have NOTHING to do with even the most popular kid foods like chicken nuggets and pizza. The only thing he will eat is cold cereal - dry. And he only has a select few that he will eat from that. We use to get so frustrated and try and force eating, because we thought he was just stubborn and picky, but he seriously acts like he's TERRIFIED to eat other foods. So, is there a specific term for what Henry is going through? As much and I would hope my nephew's mom would want to look into this, it's doubtful, because she isn't willing to see there is a problem, but it's worth passing it on...

Jenna said...

Thanks for commenting Krystal. Yes, I would say that sounds very similar to Henry, especially if it has been an ongoing problem. Henry's evaluation says that he presents with a severe feeding disorder characterized by sensory aversion. So, a feeding disorder (which can have a variety of causes at the root if it) by way of his sensory aversions and anxiety getting in the way if him trying new things. It's definitely worth getting more info on!

Karen said...

Great Job Mr. Mr.

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