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SPD and oral defensivess

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 
My daughter is three years old. She has an extremely limited diet (mostly carbohydrates, prosciutto, banana cake, pumpkin bread, occasionally omelettes) and breastmilk. I have done the SPD checklist http://www.sensory-processing-disord...checklist.html and responded yes to many of the points in the tactile defensive section. Her main problem is extreme food fussiness - she also hates having her face washed and her teeth brushed, used to hate walking on or touching sand, screams if I accidently splash a drop of water on her, etc.

My problem is finding someone to help us. We live in Italy and SPD, or oral defensiveness, doesn't seem to be a widely recognised issue here.

I have found one speech therapist who works with children with eating difficulties, but I am reluctant to take my daughter to do therapy with her - we took her for an evaluation and she immediately condemned my breastfeeding her (she was 2 1/2 at the time). She thinks that breastfeeding has caused her reluctance to try new things. (Actually my daughter was born with a cleft lip and palate and I assume that that has more to do with it, at least the trauma of surgery).

I have an idea of the kind of therapy that I think would help my daughter, but that just doesn't seem to be on offer here. She did really well this summer when we were at the beach - soon got used to getting dirty and playing with the sand (although she refused to walk on the hot sand or wet sand where there was seeweed) jumped a lot on the trampoline - and tried a few new foods (while walking home from the beach)

I am unsure wether to keep going on with homemade therapy? I get her to cook with me, play with playdough, etc. Do you think it is possible to help her overcome her difficulties (which is really only eating) on our own? Or does she need professional help.

My pediatrician thinks that she would benefit from preschool and eating in a group setting. Problem is that preschools here don't have sand boxes, they don't use thick messy paint (which we do at home - my daughter will actually paint all over her arms now), and have only traditional climb on toys like slides. They do mostly 'neat and orderly' activities and I don't think that would be very beneficial for her. On the other hand it is difficult to ignore a doctors' suggestions, especially when she has been very positive about breastfeeding and not pushing food.

Does anyone have an OT they are really happy with, who has a good approach to food therapy and is pro breastfeeding? (i am sure that her breastfeeding is really the only reason she is well nourished). Do you think they would be prepared to talk to me either by phone or e-mail to discuss things I can do with my child, or what kind of professional help we may need?

post #2 of 7
I PM'd you back.

Sounds like the "beach therapy" really helped your DD. I think that more of that kind of sensory stuff would help. Any of that you can do at home? Have you looked at any of the sensory books out there? I'm sure others will chime in with the book titles.

The other thing I just remembered is that distraction really did a world of good for helping my DS eat. Just reading to him at the table put his attention on the book and not so much on what he was eating...just enough for him to not be so attuned to the textures so much. Also sitting him at the table in front of a window also helped, because his attention goes there also. If he thinks too much about what he's eating and how it feels...he has more problems.

You could try the group setting/peer pressure and see if it helps her, but I don't think you have to send her to preschool to do that. In fact she'd have to deal with so many new things there it's just as likely to not help her (eating-wise) in the preschool setting. Is there any kind of a Mom's group where you are? Do they have mom and kid cooking classes where you eat the final result? Do you have friends/relatives with young children who she could eat with? Just a few thoughts.
post #3 of 7
I'm going to be honest. My son has had difficulty with food since he began table foods. It has gotten worse through the years. He's had Feeding Therapy which hasn't helped. I'll be looking for another Feeding Therapist but it's VERY difficult finding one nearby who takes my insurance.

My son is almost 7. Group eating doesn't help him.
The only thing that seems to be getting ds more interested in foods is having him help me cook/bake from a special kids recipe deck (pm me for details). I bought him his own apron and chef hat. Even bought him his own cooking utensils.
It's an excruciatingly slow process.
post #4 of 7
I think you can do a lot on your own. But yes, it can be excruciatingly slow! My DD has been terribly picky since she started solids. She went for years without trying new things. She started adding some new foods this year, when she was 10.5. What helped a bit was doing food chaining.

She really liked cheese and would eat cheese pizza (with no tomato sauce) so I focused on that with her and she will now eat grilled cheese and will occasionaly eat quesadilas or cheese pitas. The group pressure is starting to her a bit more now too. She tried mac and cheese for the first time at a Girl Scout event and ate peaches when she was on her 6th grade campout.

And my DD used to totally freak about getting water in her eyes. I just kept taking her to the pool with no pressure at all and then signed her up for some very low key swim lessons when she was 6. She finally started putting her face in. She's 11 now and actually is on the swim team, which is amazing to anyone who knew her as a pre-schooler.
post #5 of 7

What we did

My DD has significant feeding issues as a result of sensory defensiveness. We worked with a fantastic feeding specialist, and this is what she had me do. It took months to see great results but we did make steady progress. We started when she was about 10 months old.

Every couple of hours, I made up a tray for DD - I tried to do this 5 times a day. That tray had NUK brushes on them, and a variety of foods. I would dip the NUKS in applesauce and yogurt and encourage her to put them in her mouth. I would give her crunchy things, like cheese-doodle-type stuff, chips, etc. (I am a health food nut and bought the organic versions at Whole Foods, not sure what you'll find in Italy). Crackers, pretzels, etc. Basically, as many different textures and tastes as I could come up with. If she didn't eat them, fine, but we spent some time thinking about trying them all. I was BFing and some of the specialists we saw thought that was a problem (not the feeding specialist) but I just ignored them. We did this in conjunction with the Wilbarger Protocol - you can google that or an OT can show you.

The feeding specialist told me to vary the brands as she could see DD getting VERY picky about only eating one kind of thing. And she was right about that.

Feel free to PM me if there's anything I can help you with.
post #6 of 7
Thread Starter 
Thanks everyone for your replies. It is nice to talk with people who realise what a problem this is.

Yes, cooking seems to really help. I am doing a home made version of food chaining (I didn't realise there was a book - I will get that) and since my daughter loves bread and biscuits, I am trying to add things to baked goods. She makes banana cake with me, cuts the bananas and mashes them, but won't touch them. She will eat the cake though, which i am really happy about because she knows there are bananas in there.

We make pumpkin bread rolls (just add pureed butternut pumpkin to a basic pizza recipe). She saw me putting the pumpkin in once and got really mad at me, so I make the dough by myself and then call her to come and help me knead it.

I also get her to fingerpaint with custard - either chocolate or vanilla. She once dipped a piece of pasta in the custard and tasted it - didn't like it at all, but at least she tried.

We do a lot of messy painting and she likes painting the colours all over her arms (it probably sounds like she doesn't have any defensiveness at all - I think she has come a long way physically, not so much orally).

The beach was great - she did a lot of jumping on a trampoline, making mud pies with sand, swimming - she tried a lot of new foods in two short weeks.

I am going to have to replicate some of those experiences at home. We live in an apartment which is a rather sterile environment. I encourage her to walk barefoot on the cold bare tiles - at first she used to scream - but then I just encorouged her to run.

I will try the five food trays a day. I sometimes do a breakfast tray for my two girls, and put a whole lot of yummy snacks on it (luckily we have an organic grocery just across the road). We have never got to the stage where she would talk about the possibility of trying something - her reaction is to cover her mouth with her hands or cry.

My elder daughter is also really good at offering her food to her sister. She even had her taste a tiny strawberry from a pot we had growing on our balcony. I will try and recruit someone to offer her food on a more regular basis.

Thanks again,

post #7 of 7
If she won't try to eat something, a backup plan is to try to get her to smell it, lick it, or touch it. You need to be okay with her doing just one of those. If she does that on a regular basis, she might eventually work her way up to trying something new.

I found that if I could get my DS to just lick something, occasionally he liked the taste so much he would actually try eating it. I thank him (even now) just for even licking or trying something new...even if he didn't like it. Awhile back I had to laugh...he said "I'm trying new foods and liking it!" He seems less fearful about trying new things, because he knows that if he doesn't like it, it's okay. He doesn't have to eat it.

Anyway, it sounds like you are doing great work in the sensory exploration department! Keep up the good work!
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