Thursday, September 20, 2012

Sensory Integration and Food: The Beginning of The Fight

When kiddo was a toddler I had no idea what a food aversion or sensativity was. Sensory Integration Dysfunction sounded like something that happened when a long lost astronaut returned from isolation in deep space for years on a Russian space station.

When he was two years old and started getting super picky with the things he would and would not eat, I was met with suggestion after suggestion which ranged from healthy little snacks to eliminating everything but the toddler standbys of chicken nuggets and hotdogs. It never occurred to me to even consider the fact that each time he refused to eat something else, it was a new texture, taste or temperature that he was eliminating from his repetoire. 

When kiddo got his feeding tube, not long after his second birthday, I was completely emersed in a world of preemie support. He had been born at 25 weeks gestation and we encountered many issues related to prematurity that many typical parents could not really related to. As he began to grow so did the community of preemie support. Even though we thrived on that support, living on a feeding tube was something that we did get some ridicule for after time had passed. A few friends could not understand how hard it was to get my kid to eat foods. I would hear on a very regular basis that if he would just spend a little time with them that THEY would get some weight on him and he would get rid of that tube in no time. Then one day a good meaning friend would offer to take Kiddo for ice cream and I would skeptically agree to let him go and the friend would return baffled at the only child in the entire world who refused to eat ice cream. It was too brown or too cold, or too crunchy or too blue. There was something wrong with every type of ice cream served and my friend could not possibly understand. By then I did, it was Sensory Processing Disorder or Dyfunction.  

One day my best friend was in town with her newborn and she invited us over for dinner at her dad's home. He was having massive Alaskan crab legs and I was totally game. We sat swapping joyous stories of our first few months of sleepless nights while my kiddos ran around. The house filled with the succulent aroma of the crabs steaming and tummies grumbled, all except kiddo. Kiddo ran gagging and wretching "mom, oh my... *gag*... whaaat....*wretch*.... is.... *gag*...that....*wretch*....smell....*gag*..." and he took off streaming towards the open screen of the door plastering his face to the grate sucking in the air in huge gasps like the room had just been exposed to anthrax.
The Deadliest Catch, Discover Channel King Crab Fishing
Kiddo has come a very long way with the help of MacLeod, his Boomstick (Cuisinart Smartstick), its amazing blending capabilities and knowing how to not stress kiddo simply because sometimes there really is just no reason to. He has Aspergers and he always will. I do challenge him with food though on a regular basis though because I do want him to be able to tolerate first- the appearance of things in front of him (without gagging) and secondly the ability to at least try a new food (again, without gagging). Its really been an amazingly difficult, hair pulling out, crying, screaming and sobbing food journey for him (and me) but we have gotten to a place where I think we are a little more comfortable knowing what is kosher and what is not. 

With oodles of Occupational Therapy and speech therapy and feeding clinics, kiddo now is very tolerant about newer things being introduced to him. It does not mean that he is going to like a new item because a weird texture to him is going to be just that and nothing is going to change it. But he will give it a try usually without tears and panic attacks and that is a huge change from a few years ago. Just writing this now and thinking back to those days trying to beg him to eat because I knew with every fiber of my being that if he didn't we would be back in the hospital the next day, I am tearing up. I would like to think that all those moments are behind me but I know that Kiddo's sensitivities to things fluctuate and require consistent work, but he tries now as hard as I do and I couldn't be prouder of him. 

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