Why Focus on Food?
Last week I introduced my new direction plans for the blog and shared my own personal and professional motivations for creating this unique feature. This week, I would like to share why I feel a food-based blog is so important and necessary for our discipline and the children that we treat.
What we eat is so important. It is vital for our health and survival, as well as the center of many of life's celebrations and special occasions. We dine in, we dine out, we gather with friends and family and for many of us we spend hours of our time in the kitchen preparing meals and feeding our family. When you have a child who is a picky eater, has food allergies, texture sensitivities and/or may be transitioning from being tube fed, meal time can be very, very stressful. For homecare therapists who are in the midst of trying to help a family through this time, therapy can be quite a daunting task.
In addition, these issues, if not resolved by the age of 3, often transfer into the early intervention school setting and beyond. Many of the children on my current speech and language caseload have significant feeding issues. There are several with food allergies. There are others who are terrified to try any type of new food. Even something simple like a saltine cracker or a scoop of yogurt can send some into a tailspin. There are others who eat the same few foods everyday, creating a very narrow and limited diet. In addition, there are also children who are given salt- and sugar-infested foods daily and seem to be doomed to a daily diet of French fries and chocolate cookies.
Watching some of these little ones munch on the same nibbles day in and day out, I can't help but wonder where will they be 10, 20 years from now? Overweight? Vitamin deficient? I've worked with numerous children who have a mouth full of decaying teeth.
In September, our preschool hosted "Back to School" Night and several parents shared concerns regarding their child's diet, even though they do not have feeding goals on their IEP. In addition, I've sat in numerous IFSP and IEP meetings over the years listening to parents express frustrations regarding their child's diet or lack thereof.
The concerns and needs are there, but it seems that the resources are often limited. My goal is to start to change that and create an online touchstone where parents and therapists can congregate, converse and find healthy common-sense solutions about how to feed their child in a nurturing and therapeutic way.