Thursday, September 26, 2013

understanding feeding - the things we take for granted during those 3 squares a day

can you recall a time when you've eaten a saltine cracker?

think about it now.

concentrate on the sensations you experienced upon putting that salty crisp snack into your mouth.
how did it feel? how did it taste? how did it smell? how did it sound? 

more importantly, how did the cracker change as you chewed it?

if you answered "it went from crispy to soggy" you are correct. 

but that's just the easy answer. 

want to know the complex explanation behind that easy answer?

with every single chew...the cracker LOOKS different

with every single chew...the cracker FEELS different inside the mouth

with every single chew...the cracker SOUNDS different

with every single chew...the cracker TASTES different 
(the enzymes within our mouths that begin to break down food detect differences in taste with each chew)

with every single chew...the cracker SMELLS different 
(the odor receptors in the back of our mouths/throat detect differences in smell with each chew)

with every single chew...there are changes in head position (vestibular sense)

with every single chew...the jaw joint changes the amount of pressure to use (proprioceptive sense)

with every single chew...the body adjusts the amount of glucose it produces, and focuses on satiation peptides and stretch receptors in order to decide how much more to eat (interoceptive sense)

all this is happening within our beautiful, intricate, amazingly elaborate bodies with  




and that's just in a typical body.

now take a child who's body is over responsive to sensory input.

his system does not easily process all this detailed information.

with EVERY SINGLE CHEW his body is working over-time.

eating is a chore. 

it's a chore he struggles with. 

it's a chore he is not able to do successfully.

it's a chore that results in failure.

how would you feel if you failed at something at least three times a day?

i'd feel defeated.

i'd give up.

i'd avoid it. 

we take eating for granted. we think it's easy. we get out a package of saltine crackers, open it, and before we know it the entire sleeve has been gobbled up. 

the truth is eating is the complete opposite of easy. 

it "is the MOST complex physical task human beings engage in. it is the ONLY human task which requires every one of your organ systems, and requires that all those systems work correctly. in addition, EVERY muscle in the body is involved (one swallow for example, takes 26 muscles and 6 cranial nerves to coordinate). plus, eating is the ONLY task children do which requires simultaneous coordination of all 8 of our sensory systems." (dr. kay toomey)

feeding ourselves is hard work. 

if you and your family are successful eaters, if you have one of those exceptional children who will eat anything, if you have a sweet kiddo who will eat most things, if you have never known a difficult battle-filled mealtime, please stop right now and thank the lord.

for those of us who do, or have a kiddo who does, struggle with feeding there is help and hope!

this is the next step in our journey, friends.

on tuesday harrison and i went back to STAR center for a feeding evaluation. it went better than expected, for which i am thankful. once again, i was so very proud of my brave boy as he was receptive to becoming a "food scientist" under the direction of dr. kay toomey, which resulted in him taking miniscule tastes of foods he usually cannot even look at. we will soon be starting feeding therapy. our whole family will be involved, will learn, will adjust, will go through it together.

thank you to feeding expert dr. toomey of sos feeding solutions for providing the saltine cracker illustration. when i asked her, "how do i explain this to our family? how do i tell them harrison's not just a picky eater?" she eloquently outlined for me how our bodies react to eating. she clearly explained how harrison's body OVER reacts to he (we) will have to work very hard to learn how to eat.

no more avoidance. no more giving up. no more defeat. 

it's time for harrison to find success!





1 comment:

Karna Robbins said...

Sweet, sweet Harrison, it is my wish for you that this journey/venture into eating therapy is a swift and successful one! I know you can do it! Rachel, you are so strong and brave! May you have much success and and may you find the strength to continue to soldier on down this difficult path!