J talks a lot. And his speech is fairly advanced for a 3-year old.
J: Oh, thank you. Thank you so much. I really appreciate that.
His advanced speech was noted by impartial third parties at his most recent nutritionist appointment. This week, we switched over from the nutritionists we'd previously seen and started going to a clinic with occupational therapists who have trained with Dr. Kay Toomey on the steps to eating hierarchy. The new clinic has a different feel, and I believe it will be more helpful. They have already given us a number of tips to help J through his eating problems, and to help us with the stresses that come along the way.
J: The TV is disturbing me from drinking my milk and eating my banana.
We always knew to keep distractions to a minimum. No toys at the table. No eating in front of the television. But we didn't know that playing with food could be a really good thing ... using food in different ways ... familiarizing him with textures. Gradually, we move toward eating. Slowly, the food moves closer to his mouth. In time, he will get there.
For us, the key is to stay neutral. No begging. No stressing. No anger. No comments on the food that could be seen as positive or negative. So instead of "This is yummy", we say other things; "This is crunchy", for example, or "This is yellow". Or ...
T: Who’s on this cup?
J: Mickey Mouse!
T: Right! That’s Mickey Mouse! And where does he live?
J: I … um … I don’t know.
J: Oh! Disneyland!
J: But why does he have a wand?
T: Because he’s Wizard Mickey.
J: Oh! He’s Wizard Mickey?
T: Yes. That’s one of his characters.
J: Oh, okay. But why is he a Lizard?
T: He’s not a Lizard. He’s a Wizard.
Already a master manipulater, J really knows how to get us riled up in a big hurry. It takes some effort to maintain composure when he acts out. But we're getting better at it, with practice. For now, we work on our understanding. J is very advanced in a lot of ways and, in others, he struggles. He has a different learning style from the norm. He is extremely active. He can be very sarcastic, or very literal, depending on the moment. He tests his boundaries in unique fashion, seeming to enjoy it when we get riled up. He pushes hard, trying to see if he can get us to change our minds and give in to his wishes. Life is a power struggle.
J: I need to pee pee.
J: I want you to come with me!
J: Please? I want you to come upstairs with me!
T: No. I'm not going upstairs.
T: No. You can use this potty.
J: I like upstairs bathroom!
J: Because. I think it's more yummier than the one down here.
T: You can go upstairs by yourself.
J: No, I want you to come with me, because I love you!
T: There's nothing wrong with this bathroom.
J: No, come upstairs so I can pee!
T: Pee down here if you want me to come with you.
J is a pretty unique kid, who doesn't follow the patterns we've come to expect in most other children that we know. He requires a different parenting style, and we are learning what must be done and adapting to his needs. Proper communication is key.
J: Is it toast?
T: Yup. Eat it, please.
T: Your cinnamon toast.
J: No, I’m not!
Yeah. Proper communication. Key. Yeah ...