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Debbie's Blog

Feeding Therapy - Moving Beyond Food Prep


Question: I am working with a 7 year old girl in feeding therapy who is refusing to open her lips and just purses. She has been involved heavily in food preparation which she enjoys foing and shows great participation.  However when it comes to the taste testing part she refuses all foods. She does eat ham and prunes.  I have tried to get her to chain to other types of ham but she refuses. I have gotten her to put a spoonful of food on a spoon and hold it in her mouth for ten seconds, but then she just spits it out. She lives with her grand parents who have been no help with the situation.  Any medical issues have been ruled out and she does not have any sensory or oral motor issues.  Any further suggestions?

Try having her actually manipulate and play with food.  Make faces with it, smash it, squash it, mold it, finger paint with it, etc.  It’s fantastic that she enjoys being involved with food prep, but she needs to manipulate it in her palms too.  So play with cookie dough as edible 'play dough' - cut out shapes and make cookie dough men.  Roll out a canvas and "paint" on it with yogurt or applesauce and so forth. Pinterest is a great source of inspiration here.

Go through a pattern of touching it to the hand first, then the arm, shoulder, top of head, nose, cheek, chin, touch it above the lips to make a “mustache,” run it over the lips to put on “lipstick,” use it as a “toothbrush” to brush the teeth, “paint” the tongue, etc. 

Regarding the food chaining, for some kids you can change the whole piece of ham / brand.  But for her, try backing up and making very tiny TINY adjustments.  For example, incorporate a little piece of a different type of ham (very small – smaller than your pinky fingernail) with the other ham she likes as a start.  

You can also try putting the mushy part of the prune (I think you can open up prunes and scrape out something spreadable?) on a ritz cracker and have her lick it off the cracker. Just licking the prune for now – she doesn’t have to eat the actual cracker (even if she licks a preferred food off of a new non-preferred food, that's progress).

If she’ll eat the ham with mayo, put a tiny tiny dot of mustard in the mayo. Next session put 2 dots. Work up from there very very slowly.

It's definitely not ideal that there’s no home follow-through, but she’s getting there!



The Benefits of Embracing the Need to Chew

Does chewing on shirt sleeves/collars sound familiar?   Chewing on legos or pencils?  Nail biting?  When this happens, one’s gut instinct might be to say “Don’t chew on that.”   And that’s true - we don’t want kids putting random objects in their mouths.  BUT, chewing (when redirected to  something safe to chew on) can actually be [...]

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Chewing on Ice

Hello - I have questions about the Dino Bite necklace. Would it work well for a 6 year old autistic child who likes to chew/eat ice?  He eats ice constantly and I'm wondering if this would be a better option for his teeth. Thank you! . . Hello!  It sounds like a chew tool would be a great [...]

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Food Aversions & Spoon Feeding Issues

Question:  Hi, I have a toddler who is almost 2 years old, have sensory processing disorder.  He also has feeding aversion. and super sensitive to texture & taste.  Some goals I am looking to achieve: desensitize the oral aversion, teaching him to eat different textures, making spoon-feeding fun (he is now fighting spoon-feed) and teaching [...]

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​My child / student is biting other kids - what can I do?

Kids biting is not uncommon. Think of biting as a way of communicating. Infants and young children don't yet have the expressive language skills to “tell" an adult or another child that they are angry, feeling frustrated, excited, fearful, overwhelmed, tired, bored, that someone is invading their space, etc. So the [...]

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​15 Made in the USA Autism Chew Toys

Need to chew?   You’ve come to the right place!  We make 15 (and counting) different chew tool designs.  They come in a variety of shapes, sizes, textures, and hardnesses to best meet a variety of sensory preferences.  Each option provides a safe, appropriate outlet for the need to chew (instead of chewing on one's [...]

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Babies Biting on Straws

Hello!  I have a 19-month old son that is currently doing occupational therapy through our state’s early childhood intervention program.  We have been trying to teach him how to drink out of a straw, but to no avail.  I have tried steps 1-4 on your How to Teach Straw Drinking article with the ARK Bear Bottle, [...]

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Needing to Chew + Drooling

So my 8, almost 9 year old son loves your chewelry, especially your textured brick chewie. But what I'm finding lately is that it makes him drool like crazy!!  He always drooled some before when chewing, but now it even drips down his chin. Any ideas on what we can do to stop the [...]

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Chewing on Straws

Question:  I have a student who chews on straws. What items would be the best for him? Hello! We have what we call ‘polytubing straws’ - it's medical grade tubing that comes in 3 foot lengths that you can trim to any length (so you can get several straws out of it). It’s not bite-proof [...]

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Does needing to chew mean my child has Autism or sensory processing disorder?

Question: I'm very new to all of this oral sensory topic.   I'm trying to understand it better as my 12 year old daughter shows significant signs for the need to chew and always has (I just thought it was teething and a phase).  The one thing I have noticed in my reading about [...]

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