The Texture Of Things

How We Met S., Our Food Friend

September 16th, 2006

The tot and I currently see a woman whom I’ll call S. from our county’s early intervention program. We meet on a weekly basis with the goal of helping the tot with her texture intolerance. We call S. our “Food Friend,” and she comes to our home for an hour at a time. The three of us together do some small activity or two that usually involve the tot and some new texture or an old texture that she doesn’t think fondly of. The first week, it was dried beans, the next week uncooked rice, and so on.

How we got to the weekly meeting stage kind of goes like this: At the tot’s 15-month and 18-month well-baby check ups, the pediatrician dismissed my concerns that she wasn’t interested in very many foods or in feeding herself. She was a preemie, so maybe this is an area she lags behind in, he said. At her 24-month visit, he finally started to see my point when I told him that she:
*won’t eat any kind of meat (not really a big deal, and in the months since then, she has eaten chicken nuggets)
*will only eat pureed foods, i.e. baby foods or yogurt, and only if they are on the thin side
*won’t spoon feed herself smooth/pureed foods
*will self-feed some dry, crunchy things
*will not abide mixed textures (including a dry crunchy being added to a puree or a chunk in the yogurt)

(There are more peculiarities to her texture wills and won’ts, but those are the food texture rules in a nutshell.)

Ask her to go beyond this, including slowly thickening the puree, and she will opt to not eat anything, but usually only after she has freaked the eff out. And I do mean freak. I know anxiety, and friends, this is anxiety. When a kid gags, throws up, or tries to flee the township because of the food in her mouth or on her tray or in my hands at the table next to her, there’s a problem, so I called the early intervention people.

First, they had someone perform the Infant-Toddler Development Assessment, and tot scored at the top of the categories. There was never any question in my mind that she would do well that day – the test includes nothing much about self-help behaviors, feeding, or textures. Still, it was lovely to see her, at 25.5 months, scoring in the top numbers for the 25-30 month age group.

Then, they put me in touch with S., our FF. It’s only been a couple of months, and we’ve spent most of our time getting to know each other, setting some goals, and figuring out where some of tot’s issues lie. So far, it looks like hypersensitivity to textures and anxiety relating to textures with no gross oral motor development problems. I’m making this language up. No one yet has said anything about any kind of diagnosis, or if we’re even in the neighborhood of getting a diagnosis soon.

Last Friday, S. took a video of one of our play sessions (beans, uncooked pasta – but no mixing them!) to a big meeting to get input from the child psychologist and the occupational therapist about how to proceed. I haven’t heard back from her yet, and in classic form, I’m anxious to learn what transpired. Hopefully, we’ll know something soon.

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