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Parents Corner

Guidelines for Picky Eaters
Help for Parents

*Note: It is important to both gain and maintain the child’s attention through all of the following suggested steps and to provide reinforcement for compliances and successes, no matter how small.

  • Incorporate friends/reinforcing person: A friend of the child or a highly preferred person sits next to the child eating the food of interest and makes related comments; e.g., “This ___ is yummy.”

  • Desensitize the child to food: Children may resist touching particular foods. In some cases this is a sensory issue and in others it is behavioral. Either way, try to incorporate food into play time; for instance, instead of plastic food or pictures, play with actual food. This way, children are exposed to and touch new foods and can be encouraged to try foods through games, without realizing the demand is present.

  • Teach the child to eat: Reinforce each small step toward the actual consumption of the food.  Begin with touching or smelling the food and move onto licking, tasting and eventually bites of the food.

  • Model eating first: The parent should sit in view of the child taking bites of the food while commenting “This ___ is yummy.”

  • Use a systematic approach:

    • Place food next to your child’s plate: Put a small amount of the food on a separate plate next to your child’s plate. Point to and discuss it.  Take a few pieces off the plate and make related comments. Note: the child is not asked to eat the food at this point in the process.

    • Put the food on your child’s plate: This should be done gradually and the child is not expected to eat the food, but should tolerate its presence on the plate. The child can be told that he/she doesn’t have to eat the food, but that it will stay on the plate during the meal.  Note: child still has not been asked to eat the food.

    • Ask the child to touch the food: Put the food on your child’s plate and throughout the meal, have the child touch the food. Again, state that he/she doesn’t have to eat the food, but that it should be touched with a finger during your meal. As an alternative, the child can be asked to pick up the food and feed it to the adult.

    • Now we are moving: Put the food on your child’s plate and ask the child to touch the food to his/her lips.  Once again, a reminder of the expectation can be given; e.g., “You don’t have eat the __, but I’d like you to pick it up and touch it to your lips.”

    • Ask child to touch food with tongue: Put the food on your child’s plate and ask the child to touch the food to his/her tongue. Note: the child still has not been asked to eat the food.

    • The child puts the food in his/her mouth: The child is asked to put a very small piece of the food in his/her mouth and swallow it.  It is likely that very little chewing will occur during the first go around. Work with your child and move toward chewing as the final step!

 

Implementing Biomedical Therapies/Interventions for Children with special needs
Parents need 4 Ps…………..

The implementation of biomedical therapies for individuals diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder requires a great deal of involvement and commitment from parents. Parents need 4 Ps:

  • Preparation Parents need to prepare and educate themselves about the interventions before implementation begins. By doing this, they are able to examine the outcomes and identify potential benefits versus detriments. In many instances, negative effects are seen in children before the positive ones. Parents who are well-educated are better equipped to make decisions which might affect the long-term efficacy of the child’s interventions.

  • Patience is critical, as some therapies/interventions can show results more quickly than others. Parents must be patient and allow for a given intervention to be provided for some time before evaluating the results.  The length of time depends on the individual child and treatment. Some children show dramatic improvements soon after the implementation of dietary or other treatment protocols, while some children show very slow and steady progress. Patience, in many occasions, is necessary to achieve the desired results.

  • Persistence is critical for the success of any therapy/intervention. This indeed is a challenge for parents of children with special needs, as these children may exhibit behaviors or other challenges that require the time and energy of parents.  Regardless of the potential a therapy might have, if it is not given as intended and consistently, the outcomes may not be as expected.  In these cases, parents are often tempted to give up completely on an intervention, but persistence might have led to entirely different results.

  • Practical Approach Parents of children with special needs are often in search of answers and anxiously navigate through interventions. As a result, in many instances, they might try several therapies/interventions at the same time achieve faster results. This approach can not only confuse the child, but also might have devastating effects on a parent’s patience and persistence if the outcomes are not as expected.  On the other hand, if the interventions appear to be successful, it is nearly impossible to determine which individual treatment is working, if they were all begun together.  A practical and well-planned approach includes making small changes at a time and implementing one therapy/intervention at a time. By doing this, interventions can be individually evaluated, which will ultimately make the process easier and help to ensure long term success.

 

 
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