• Family,  Tactile Defensiveness

    Our Family’s Two Completely Different Types of Picky Eaters

    The other day, I was talking to my youngest daughter about her picky eating. She commented about how she is a picky eater, but her brother is a picky eater, and he has an excuse. Then she said she was so sorry about being a picky eater. After some thought, I realized my family has two types of picky eaters.

    Our Picky Eater #1 – My Son

    Our family’s number one picky eater is my son. He has tactile defensiveness. (Read more about his challenges with tactile defensiveness). If you’ve been following this blog, you’ve heard about it, but for a quick overview, my son doesn’t like how things feel on his skin. This also includes how food feels in his mouth. Because he has tactile defensiveness in his mouth, he has difficulty eating certain foods.

    Finding something for him to eat at mealtime is challenging and a daily struggle. He won’t eat anything slimy or gooey, such as soup or pasta with any sauce. What usually ends up happening is he will find something he likes to eat, and then he eats that until he doesn’t like it anymore, and then the process starts all over. This makes it hard for me to make dinner for him. He will usually try something new if it doesn’t look too gooey. A lot of the time, I typically have to find something else for him to eat other than what we are having for dinner.

    I know there are a lot of you out there who are probably saying make him eat what you cook. With him, it just isn’t that simple. I try to make food for dinner that he will eat, but sometimes, I like to make what I want to eat. I make him try it, and sometimes he will, but he often doesn’t like how it feels in his mouth. So, with him, I try to do the best I can.

    Our Picky Eater #2 – My Youngest Daughter

    Our family’s number two picky eater is my youngest daughter. She doesn’t like anything. Listen, I mean anything when I say she doesn’t like anything. I try to make a variety of food for her, but she won’t eat anything. She is the most stubborn person I have ever met! Her essential meal is pasta but without sauce. It’s just plain old pasta, sometimes with melted butter. There are very few other things that she will eat.

    It is hard to explain why she has to eat something when her brother doesn’t. She has grown up watching her brother being a picky eater, so she comes by it honestly and thinks she doesn’t have to eat something if he doesn’t. She is still young and doesn’t fully understand her brother’s condition. We have tried explaining it to her, but it is hard for her to comprehend. Now that she is getting older, she is starting to understand, but that hasn’t made up for the years of her picky eating.

    I believe most of her picky eating comes from being afraid. She’s often afraid to try something new and thinks she will not like it, so she doesn’t try it.

    How Do I Handle My Family’s Picky Eaters?

    Now that you understand more about what kind of picky eaters I have, you are probably wondering how I handle it. Honestly, there is no magical way to handle it. The best thing I do to help them with their picky eating is encouragement. I try to encourage them to try new foods. It doesn’t always work, but when it does, it feels like such a milestone for me and for them.

    Is there some magical way to get your picky eater to eat? I am going to say no. I think each child is different. What works with my son doesn’t work with my daughter. I would do the best you can with your child. They can be stubborn, that is for sure. I must remind myself to keep going constantly; you are doing great!

    I would love to hear from anyone with a picky eater and how they deal with it. I often feel at my wits’ end. Please comment and share your knowledge so we can all help each other.

  • Family,  Tactile Defensiveness

    The Biggest Challenge Our Son Faces with Tactile Defensiveness

    Our son has had a lot of different challenges with tactile defensiveness, from being delayed in learning to walk to his not wanting to touch slimy, gooey things; however, the unexpected biggest challenge that we have had for almost fourteen years since his diagnosis has been the difficulty he has with eating.

    When our son received a tactile defensiveness diagnosis, we thought it was just a sensitivity to his skin. It took us a while to realize that he also had some sensory problems in his mouth. Until then, I had always thought he was just a picky eater. Once I started paying a little more attention to his eating, I realized that he would only eat certain types of food, and it was based on their texture.

    Our son was about 18 months old when we got his tactile defensiveness diagnosis. By that point, he was off a bottle and eating solid foods. He struggled with it once he got old enough to eat baby food. He did not like it. He never took to rice cereal. I could get him to eat a few fruits, but that was it. He ate a little better when he started eating solid foods, but not much. He was a little closer to two years old when we finally realized he had sensitivity issues in his mouth.

    When he was young, our son had four main foods that he would eat: chicken nuggets, quesadillas, frozen burritos, and mac and cheese. That was it. I have no idea how or why he ate mac and cheese or the burrito because they are both a little gooey. Eventually, he stopped eating burritos; to this day, I can’t get him to eat any. He would eat a lot of snacky foods like crackers and pretzels. He would never eat yogurt or applesauce. He would look at food, decide it was gooey, and have nothing to do with it. I couldn’t even get him to try something new; he would refuse to put it in his mouth if it looked gooey. He didn’t like the look of sauce on pizza, so he didn’t have his first piece of pizza until he was five or six years old.

    As he grew older, getting him to try new foods became a little easier. He eats a lot better now, but he still isn’t a great eater. He never eats fruits or veggies because he didn’t eat them as a kid. Right now, I try to get him to try them, and he will take a bite, but he doesn’t like them. The one thing he will refuse to try, even at his age, is soup. I love to make soup in the winter, but he will not try it. I have tried bribing him, and he still won’t try it.

    Eating is such a chore for him at this point in his life. I love to cook, and I love food. I love to try different recipes. However, he doesn’t like to sit down and eat. It is just a pain for him. He picks at his food and takes little nibbles so it can take him a long time to eat.

    As you can imagine he is very skinny and we are always concerned about him gaining weight. I always have to ensure he gets enough calories daily to gain weight or at least not lose any. As I continue to work with him on his eating, I will try to share recipes he will eat. He does enjoy chicken, so if anyone has any ideas on recipes he might enjoy, I would love to hear about new recipes!

  • Tactile Defensiveness

    Helping a Child with Tactile Defensiveness Overcome Eating Challenges

    Tactile defensiveness can pose significant challenges for children when it comes to eating. Sensory sensitivities can make mealtimes overwhelming and stressful. However, with patience, understanding, and a strategic approach, parents and caregivers can help their children overcome tactile defensiveness and develop a healthier relationship with food.

    Understanding Tactile Defensiveness

    Tactile defensiveness, or tactile hypersensitivity, is a condition where individuals experience an overreaction to certain tactile stimuli. For children with tactile defensiveness, the textures, temperatures, and physical sensations associated with food can trigger aversive responses, making eating a daunting task. It is important to remember that each child’s experience is unique, and their aversions may vary.

    Create a Calm and Supportive Environment

    Creating a calm and supportive environment during mealtimes is crucial for helping a child with tactile defensiveness. Reduce distractions, such as loud noises or bright lights, that may heighten their sensory overload. Establish a predictable routine and provide clear expectations. Encourage positive associations with food by incorporating enjoyable activities or storytelling into mealtimes.

    Gradual Exposure to New Foods

    Introducing new foods gradually is key to helping a child with tactile defensiveness expand their palate. Start with small portions of unfamiliar foods and pair them with preferred items. Please encourage them to gradually explore the new food with their senses, allowing them to touch, smell, and interact with it without pressure to eat. Celebrate any progress made, regardless of how small it may seem.

    Food Texture Modifications

    Food textures can be particularly challenging for children with tactile defensiveness. Modifying the textures of certain foods can help make them more manageable. Pureeing or blending foods to create smoother textures or offering crunchy alternatives like vegetable sticks instead of raw fruits can provide more tolerable options for children with tactile sensitivities.

    Consulting with Occupational Therapists

    Occupational therapists specializing in sensory processing can provide valuable guidance and strategies tailored to your child’s needs. They can offer techniques to desensitize their tactile sensitivity over time and suggest activities to improve sensory integration. Collaborating with these professionals can significantly enhance your child’s progress and overall well-being.

    Helping a child with tactile defensiveness overcome eating challenges requires patience, understanding, and a supportive approach. By creating a calm environment, gradually introducing new foods, and seeking professional assistance, parents can empower their children to develop healthier relationships with food.