August 26, 2007 by Niksmom
Well, never let it be said that it is ever dull or quiet at Nik’s house! Let’s see in the span of a week we’ve had ear surgery
, Nik started walking
, we replaced our family room floor
, the start of school
, and the bump on the noggin
scare. We are definitely riding the roller coaster this week. Tonight, it’s on the upswing, or I suppose it could be down; it all depends on which part of the roller coaster ride is your favorite. Mine is standing on the sidelines watching!
So, you know we’ve been doing the “intensive” OT
for a little over a month now, right? We’ve seen some amazing changes
and rapid progress in Nik’s physical skill
development, his social interactions, his attention span —you name it, it’s galloping forward
right now. Except the eating
. Now, in Nik’s defense, I have to come clean and confess that I have not made any efforts to feed him for awhile because of the whole flooring issue
in the family room which is now beautifully resolved
. Plus, I got tired of feeling like a failure multiple times a day because I have not been able to get my child —who once used to eat quite a bit (albeit pureed foods) —to even accept so much as a spoonful of anything without it becoming a major struggle. I am certain that the behavioral therapist and the feeding specialist
would both huff and sigh and tell me that “Of course he won’t eat if you aren’t being consistent…blah, blah, blah.”
However, this is one of those times I absolutely trusted my instincts — and I think it is paying off! I have thought for a long time that the root of Nik’s yo-yo eating has been sensory; he just cannot regulate himself enough to focus for more than a few minutes at a time —certainly not long enough to make it through a “meaningful” meal!. I’ve been waiting to see how he responded to the OT before attempting oral feeding again. Now that I no longer have the family room floor
as my excuse for not feeding Nik, I decided, “Tonight the feeding commences whether I am ready or not!”
After playing with Nik for a while, I did the whole brushing and joint compression routine that Nik has come to crave. Seriously. Whenever he sees the sensory brush, he starts humming “Wheels on the Bus” (the song I sing to him while I brush him and do compressions) and comes scooting over to sit on the floor between my legs. He snuggles back against me and, every so often, reaches for the brush and starts to rub his palm on it. You’d never know this same child couldn’t stand the touch of this very same brush on his palms just six weeks ago!
My hungry little guy climbed into his chair, fully expecting the usual tube feeding and desultory licks of Mom’s apple or something. Boy was he thrilled when I broke out the food! I mean, it’s not like we don’t offer the kid food a lot —we do. But he only ever wants to lick things. Tonight, he gobbled down an ounce of apricots (pureed), let me “brush” his teeth with a teething biscuit, tried a lick of a strawberry fruit roll up, and devoured a slice of peach in a mesh feeder.
My cynical father jokingly remarked, “A whole slice? Boy, another week and he’ll have finished the meal!” Har-har.
So, just what is the big deal about tonight’s meal? Well, let me rattle ‘em off…
First, the fact that Nik ate at all
without even fighting me for control more than once or twice is huge! He even tried to feed me a couple of bites of apricots. He laughed, he made eye contact, and he opened his mouth and took the whole spoon. Nik normally either takes the smallest bites humanly possible, or he somehow gets the spoon under his tongue —where everything goes. He is an incredible “guarder.”
Second, is the stunning fact that Nik actually tried a new flavor! The strawberry roll up got mixed reviews. But I am proud of him for trying it. I know he likes fresh strawberries so we may just have to work on the whole texture of the roll up thing. So, that’s actually third —a new texture, too!
Then, Nik allowed me to actually touch his teeth with something resembling food (the teething biscuit) and he didn’t fight or gag or choke. Major, major, major deal about that! Usually everything goes under the tongue. Watching Nik taking a “sip” from a glass or open cup always cracks me up; it reminds me of my cats’ drinking water from a bowl. Lap, lap, lap.
Finally, the biggest, hugest, most colossal deal of all? Drum roll, please…
Nik. Touched. The. Mesh. Feeder. The same object which only weeks ago was a thing to be reviled and swatted away —preferably with Mommy’s hand so Nik didn’t even have to touch the loathsome texture! Not only did my fearless boy touch the thing, he licked it —a gazillion times! He slurped and lapped and squeezed and sucked on that feeder like nothing I have ever seen him do in his life! At one point, he actually growled a cute little sound and shoved the whole thing in his mouth and BIT DOWN!
The poor peach slice never stood a chance. When Nik was done, all that was left was the merest residue. A hint of pulp. And one sticky, smiling boy.
Cry? You bet you’re ass I cried! I’m crying now as I’m telling you about it. I am so proud of my child. I feel like there is a light at the end of this damnably dark, serpentine tunnel called “oral feeding.” It may take us a while longer to get there; we may falter and try to turn back. But I think that somehow —I don’t know when —we will make it through to the light.
I feel so encouraged. Hopeful. Light. Filled with grace.