Thursday, April 12, 2012

Oral Sensory Activity

Oral sensitivity is my daughter's biggest issue. We struggle every day to get her to eat and it usually ends up being the same foods every day. She likes to stick to dry, crunchy, or hard foods yet she sometimes accepts wet foods (yogurt, bananas). Its the in between foods that she won't touch at all. Our poor OT comes to the house every week, prepared to fight with Kyra to do anything with food. We went from having her gag and almost throw up at the sight of spaghetti noodles, to being able to pick one up and throw it in the trash. HUGE progress on Kyra's part. 

One goal of desensitizing a child enough to try a new food is to get them to play with it. Eventually they will get used to the texture on their hands and maybe lick it or even try a piece of it. Food is scary to children, especially unknown foods. It's a good idea to designate a space and time for playing with your foods. Kyra has her own table set up in the playroom where she can eat or play - we encourage both! 

Since pasta is the enemy, I decided to make it fun for her. 

All you need to do is cook your pasta normally and drain it. Separate it into different bowls for the different colors, then add a few drops of food coloring and stir! You can let it soak up the color for a few minutes if you want, then dump it into a container. Make sure you offer a spoon or fork as well. Your kiddo might think "hey, I use a fork to eat other foods, maybe I can use it to eat this one!". 

At first, Kyra was hesitant to touch anything at all. We started naming the colors, then eventually she wanted to point and touch each color. She picked up a few pieces (I almost fainted!) then opted to use the fork for the rest of the play. This was GREAT because it meant she was no longer terrified or gagging at the thought of pasta being near her. It wasn't a threat which meant she could put her guard down and have fun. If you are feeling brave, you can also add a 'safe' food into the bucket that your child enjoys to eat on a regular basis. Another good idea is to have the bucket out when your child is eating their regular meal to associate this pasta with safe foods they already enjoy.

This is a good activity to do a few times a week, eventually offering a bowl of plain noodles and some sauce that they could "color" their own noodles in. Encourage them to try the sauce, to lick it off  their fingers, and eventually dip the noodle in and lick it off the noodle. Patience is key - you don't want to move too fast and upset them. It could take months or even a year before they are comfortable enough to try a new food. 


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