Yep, seriously. For many kids, food exploration begins with just learning to tolerate messy hands and faces. Many parents who bring their kids to feeding therapy have one goal in mind: Eating. In fact, as a pediatric feeding therapist, a common phrase I hear when observing families at their dinner tables is, “Quit playing with your food and just eat it!”
In Aurora, CO, a preschool teacher in a public school setting would not allow 4 year-old Natalee Pearson to eat the Oreo cookies in her home-packed lunch. Instead, a note reprimanding the mother’s choice to include cookies was sent home to Natalee’s mother, who had also packed a sandwich and fruit. The note read:
“Dear Parents, It is very important that all students have a nutritious lunch. This is a public school setting and all children are required to have a fruit, a vegetable, and a healthy snack from home, along with milk. If they have potatoes, the child will also need bread to go along with it. Lunchables, chips, fruit snacks, and peanut butter are not considered to be a healthy snack. This is a very important part of our program and we need everyone’s participation.”
Research shows a child takes eight to 15 exposures to a new food just to enhance acceptance of that food. Yet, most parents offer a new food to a child just three to five times before giving up on presenting it. As a speech-language pathologist who specializes in pediatric feeding, I have created a guideline for parents to give them research-based, practical strategies for expanding their picky eater’s palette.
The Three E’s: Expose, Explore, Expand, is a systematic method of helping families create consistent exposures to a variety of foods, even when the child is a hesitant eater. Exposure and exploration might include sensory play, gardening, visiting farmers’ markets or food pantries, and cooking.
Horses are essential in hippotherapy, a form of neuromuscular therapy that can improve the posture and coordination of a child with disabilities.
Horses are special animals and their healing powers have been recognized for thousands of years. Hippos is the Greek word for horse and hippotherapy means the therapeutic use of horses. But hippotherapy shouldn’t be confused with therapeutic riding — hippotherapy is a medically based treatment tool, whereas therapeutic riding involves teaching people with disabilities equestrian skills. Although Hippocrates first mentioned using horses therapeutically in his ancient Greek writings around 400 B.C., it wasn’t until the 1960s that physical therapists (PTs) in Europe began using horses to help patients with neuromuscular disorders such as cerebral palsy or brain injury. Physical therapists believed that the horse’s movement created neurological changes that helped improve a person’s postural control, strength, and coordination.
September is National Baby Safety Month. Check out these surprising “don’ts” that many parents still do.
When it comes to baby safety, there are quite a few rules you probably know well: Put baby to sleep on his back, no bumpers or loose bedding in the crib, store poisonous items out of reach, never leave baby unattended on an elevated surface. The list goes on and on. Even though you do all of those things (and more), you may still be making mistakes that put your baby at risk. Right these wrongs to keep your baby safe.
With Nancy Ripton, co-author of Melanie’s baby book, Baby Self-Feeding
Many times parents don’t worry about picky eaters until it’s too late. Once you already have a picky eater, it’s much more difficult to change the way your child looks at food. The good news for parents who haven’t yet started solids is that you can do a whole lot to prevent picky eating by the way you introduce first foods.
As a speech-language pathologist specializing in pediatric feeding treatment, I work mostly with kids, food and creating happier mealtimes for families. I often find the kitchen is the heart of the home, where parents are most relaxed and where we can build relationships with kids with autism, especially if they are hesitant eaters.
To help SLPs and parents embark on their food adventure, I offer five tips to make the kitchen connection for kids with autism.
I once had a client with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), age 10, who had a history of picky eating and feeding difficulties. He also had an affinity for movie production logos, from the iconic roaring lion that represents MGM to the letters and swing-arm white desk lamp that form the Pixar logo. Based on my experience with tackling such feeding difficulties, I sought to merge his interest in logos with exploring new foods.