Study Up on PANDAS: A Little-Known Disorder With Big Effects

By Melanie Potock

Tomorrow—October 9—is PANDAS/PANS Awareness Day. Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated With Streptococcal Infections (PANDAS) includes a little-known set of symptoms that occur when strep creates inflammation in a child’s brain. According to the PANDAS network, the child then “quickly begins to exhibit life-changing symptoms such as OCD [obsessive-compulsive disorder], anxiety, tics, personality changes, decline in math and handwriting abilities, sensory sensitivities, restrictive eating and more.” PANS—Pediatric Acute-Onset Neuropsychiatric Syndromes— might result from a different bacterial infection, virus or an environmental trigger.

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Tips for Eating with Our SEVEN Senses – Part Two: Touch and Sound

By Melanie Potock

In Part One of this series on Eating with Our SEVEN Senses, we explored the sense of sight, smell and taste and offered tips for encouraging a child to explore foods via those sensory pathways.  In Part Two, we will explore the tactile (touch) and auditory (sound) sensory systems and offer tips on how to help your child become more adventurous via both of these sensory systems.

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A Special Needs Guide for Learning to Eat with Your SEVEN Senses – Part One

By Melanie Potock

Most of us think of five senses and the human body: Sight, sound, smell, taste and touch.  But, when it comes to learning to eat a wide variety of foods, two other sensory systems also come into play: The vestibular system and our sense of proprioception.  As children grow, they are constantly processing sensory input, comparing it to other information stored in the brain and making decisions on how to react to that input.  When it comes to trying new foods, all seven senses contribute to a child’s willingness to explore and try new foods.

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Autism and the School Cafeteria: Four Tips to Help Kids Eat

By Melanie Potock

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all students get at least 20 minutes to eat lunch, but many public elementary schools give kids just 20 minutes to enter, eat and exit the chaos of the cafeteria. Students often receive less time to get nutritious meal in their bellies than state governments provide for adult hourly wage-earners. For example, in Colorado, the law requires employers to provide an uninterrupted 30-minute lunch period.

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5 Mistakes (some) Parents Make When Praising Their Picky Eater

By Melanie Potock

What’s parenting got to do with raising a healthy eater?  Everything. Now, that’s not to say that kids become picky eaters because of “bad” parenting. When I teach classes around the United States, the audience learns that kids with serious feeding challenges got there because something went awry with their physiology, sensory or motor development, and consequently, children quickly learn to limit what they’ll eat.

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S.I.T.! Feeding Your Child Using Stability and Independence at the Table

By Melanie Potock

As a pediatric feeding therapist, I visit homes, daycares and preschools to help hesitant eaters become adventurous, healthy, happy eaters. The very first thing I assess is how the child is positioned in their feeding chair. As mentioned in Alice’s recent post on readiness for solid foods here on Science of Mom, babies must be able to sit upright before safely introducing solid foods.

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The Stress of Having a Picky Eater: 3 Tips to Help Parents

By Melanie Potock

Children who resist trying new foods range from the garden-variety, hesitant “picky eater” to extremely selective. Deciphering the intricacies of where a child lies on the eating spectrum takes our professional experience in feeding disorders and knowledge of the latest criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) for Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID).

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