Occupational Therapists & Dietitians & Speech Language Pathologists! Oh my!

Throw a Psychologist and a Consulting Pediatrician into the mix, and that’s about right. These are the people helping us with Zander’s eating problem, which is now being referred to (by the aforementioned medical professionals) as an eating disorder. Wow…amazing how an 8-letter word can be so fucking scary.

Zander is now 26 months old…and the only fruits and veggies he eats are pureed to a smooth nothingness. He gags at the slightest bit of texture. He’s scared to touch his food. He won’t eat crackers unless they’re wee little goldfish crackers (and he seems to have an interesting relationship with them). He won’t eat cookies. He won’t eat normal cereals, only infant pasty-nasty infant cereal. This kid is scared of ice cream…..ice cream!

He will eat small bits of pizza (pizza night is always happy and relaxing). He will eat some little bites of chicken if he’s in a good mood. We can even get him to eat fish…if he’s in a fishy kinda mood. Toast is a staple. French fries…bring ’em. Mind you, this progress was made over months and months of trying, trying and trying again….making sure we eat altogether at the table…letting him feed us…cleaning up his puke….so much puke….entirely too much puke…and being as patient as humanly possible. And all while dealing with a preemie with GERD. Overwhelming? You betcha!

Our physician referred us to a Consulting Pediatrician, who referred us to an Occupational Therapist at the Children’s Hospital in Ottawa. The OT had us come in for a series of “information sessions” for parents of infants and toddlers with eating disorders. We attended the second session today.

Last weeks’ session was an introduction of sorts. Today’s session included a Speech Language Pathologist…’cause it’s all linked ya know. Eating/chewing and speech use the same muscles in the mouth and tongue. If you aren’t eating and strengthening those muscles, in all likelihood your speech development will be delayed. Great…

After the SLP had spoken to the group of parents (there are parents of 6 children in the group), we spoke with her privately about Zander’s speech. You see….I had been worried about it. He said his first few words around 10 months….and then nothing. No new words. For months. Then he suddenly picked up where he left off, and his vocabulary began to grow. Slowly. But at around 22 months he gained mega-momentum….we’re talking Mach 10 here. There were weeks where he would average 2 to 5 new words a day! He was word-crazy, and we were basking in his new found communication and conversational skills. But there was just one problem….

He only said/says the first syllable of multi-syllabic words. For instance, carpet is “car”, pirate is “pi” or “pa”, brother is “bruh”, diaper is “di”…you get my drift. He has started to say complete words such as “bubble” and “daddy”….but that took a loooong time.

According to the SLP, this is not a normal pattern of speech development. Most toddlers will repeat a sound (“baba” for bottle), not just chop the end syllable(s) off of the word. She did indicate that he sounded like he was progressing from that stage and starting to catch up to his peers, but she has asked us to get our names on the waiting list for Speech Therapy. Goodie….

Oh…and there’s one more thing. During the SLP’s talk we learned that most toddlers’ first words start with with “b”, “p” or “m” and that the hard “c” sound or k sound is not usually developed until well after a year of age…yet Zander’s first words were “cup”, “cat” and “car”. During our one-on-one with the SLP, she speculated that Zander may have suffered from reflux like his younger brother. Oh God….all those nights during his first 8 months when he screamed and screamed…and we, being first-time parents, thought it was teething….he may have been in pain from reflux…if we just had’ve known….he could have been on medication to spare him the pain….

Great….some more guilt for my big ol’ mommy-guilt pile.

Before we left, we were instructed to stop spoon feeding Zander any of his pureed foods….if he doesn’t feed himself, he doesn’t eat. We are also not supposed to push him…if he doesn’t want to eat, he just won’t eat. And if he won’t eat or throws up from gagging, we are supposed to act like it doesn’t bother us and remain calm. And if he doesn’t eat anything for dinner, we are supposed to send him to bed hungry because he has to be taught to understand and recognize his hunger. Wow…purposely starving your toddler….isn’t that every mom’s dream? (note my biting sarcasm…)

This is normally the part where I try to find the silver lining…the “it could be worse” spiel…and it could be worse. We have met the parents of a 2-year old little boy at our information sessions…he’s never had solid food, he gags when he sees his parents eat, he gags when they are grocery shopping, he gags when he smells food….he’s only on formula…and he has yet to say a word. So I know it could be worse…much worse.

But that doesn’t help me tonight. Because tonight my beautiful 26-month old little boy ate a couple of pieces of macaroni and drank some toddler formula for dinner….that’s all…nothing more. And I had to act like it didn’t bother me, which it did. I had to remain calm…and I am so not calm.

There will be a Registered Dietitian at next weeks’ session…and I’m scared. Seriously…I used to think I was a strong woman, but I’m not sure how much more I can take….

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14 Responses to Occupational Therapists & Dietitians & Speech Language Pathologists! Oh my!

  1. Absolutely Bananas says:

    Oh I am so sorry. That is truly horrid. Hang in there.

  2. Karen says:

    (hugs) We know a boy who is 6 who is just now starting to eat–he tried cheese for the FIRST TIME last week! He has lived on yogurt, milk, and bread. And yet he’s happy and healthy and growing normally. He has started to see the people at the “Eating Clinic” at Children’s Hospital though.
    (hugs) again.

  3. Suburban Oblivion says:

    I wouldn’t worry a ton about the speech stuff, what they told you does make a lot of sense. One of the first things they evaluated Brendan for was lack of muscle tone in the mouth as that can cause problems. It sounds like if that’s the case it could probably be helped with different mouth exercises they will have you do with him- blowing bubbles, licking Popsicles or suckers, practicing certain sounds, etc.

    As far as the rest, no experience, but keep hanging in there. Two year olds are notoriously bad/picky eaters, so chances are this is the worst it will ever be, especially since you are recognizing the problem and getting him help. There probably won’t be any quick fixes, but you’ll learn to savor every success along the way. ((Hugs))

  4. In the Trenches of Mommyhood says:

    Thinking of you. Hang in there. Let go of the mommy guilt! (easier said than done, right?)

  5. AmandaD says:

    Oh honey! I am so sorry. This mom bag can definitely suck. It sounds like you are doing everything right and then some. Good luck, vent and rage as often as you need, we’ll tune in no matter the topic!

  6. Lene says:

    Oh Cate, I am sorry. I am glad that you guys were able to get into see the SLP.

    I can only imagine how hard it is to see Zander going through this.


  7. Jennifer aka Binky Bitch says:

    Cate, I’m an SLP so if you have any questions please feel free to email me. You’ve been such a help thru my acid reflux journey, I’d love to return the favor.

    It sounds like your SLP is very thorough and knowledgeable! That is great news. And just remember, we SLP’s have ways of making kids talk and eat. :)!

  8. Kimberly says:

    I have to echo what Amanada said. And hope that we can help you let go of some of the guilt. That’s one of the greatest things about a support group. You can vent and confide to your hearts content, and know that we’ll still love you. And that we’ll help you sort through what thoughts are rational, and what aren’t.

    Be gentle to yourself, okay? ~big hugs~

  9. feener says:

    Wow, I saw this on binky bitch’s site and I am amazed. I didn’t realize there was such a problem. You sound like you are dealing with it as best you can and you are getting all the help you can for him. good luck, i hope you start to see progress.

    NO GUILT allowed. You sound like a wonderful Mom who is going above and beyond to help your child

  10. Queen Heather says:

    That sounds so very tough. I can’t imagine.

    I have no advice expect to take into consideration what the ‘ist say, then trust your gut for the right thing to do. don’t ignore the “experts” just to do it…but if your gut is telling you to send him to bed w/o food is wrong, girlie, you know best. No learned medical knowledge can replace that instinct.

  11. karla says:

    Oh Cate. Big hugs for you ok my dear! Parenting is so challenging and you already have so much on your plate these days. Wishing you much strength.


  12. Happy Homemaker says:

    You do need a hug! Good luck- those were not easy “Doctor’s Orders”

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