My Special Needs Network

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"I am picky! Please listen to me and help me better interpret my needs to feel safe!"

“There are alligators under my bed!” It is amazing how role playing can work its' magic on great areas of concerns for therapists and parents alike.  Playing with different foods, textures and positioning allows a child to expand his repertoire of skills.  

When a child displays “PICKY “ characteristics such as eating certain foods or dressing in a certain fashion…these are certainly areas of concern that should be of interest to teachers, parents and therapists.  We all have been told to meet them where they are, but, getting a baseline and inventing challenges for our clients is part of the therapy. 

Kids who are picky eaters can usually be described as crunchers or chewers.  Some are known to only like macaroni and cheese, chicken nuggets and french fries.  These children are soft mechanical experts and do not like to be pushed past their path of least resistance. They do not like to work too hard to eat.  Others display a great need for crunching and will eat things such as hard noodles, chips and crackers.  These children usually are asking for more oral input.  There are myriads of other symptoms that can parallel this behavior such as low tone, oral hypo/hyper-defensiveness, teeth brushing difficulties, bruxism and the list goes on. 

Therapy and successful eating at home should be a behavioral/play based approach with an emphasis on making attempts at new food items. It is also not unusual for children to show signs of tactile aversions to clothes.  I have worked with a number of children who as soon as they come home from school, they will undress from head to toe.  This seems somewhat “quirky” and looks different for each child.  What is important to note here is that the team needs to understand the tactile aversions so that they can be addressed in therapy.  I like to use multi-sensory items in my sessions to optimize the senses.  Working directly on large muscle movements with rich language stimuli encourages desensitizing these aversions. 

We pay special attention to certain avoidance behaviors and make numerous attempts at using play to encourage a willingness and comfortable level of engagement.  I believe that you too can help your child succeed with what one child described to me as “ a cold, prickly feeling.” Let them have a voice to describe, listen and watch them intently, and then get to work on broadening their horizons.

Regards, Cindy

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