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!