Friday we saw a different speech pathologist for feeding therapy. And it went pretty well. I have some hope this time that maybe we’ll find some strategies that will work for Clara and help her to begin to make some progress. Some things she said (some we knew, some were new):
- Clara has a significant eating delay. We will have to work hard to overcome her aversion to eating.
- Clara doesn’t like to eat because she’s not good at it! This is true of most fine motor skills, she said. But I’ve also seen this with students across the spectrum in my own experiences. They’re a bad reader, they hate reading. I truly can’t imagine hating eating, but that’s part of what’s going on with Clara. So we have to help her get better at it, so she won’t hate doing it, so she’ll do it. Cyclical, yes.
- Clara has a severe tongue thrust. Most babies outgrow this by four months or so, but Clara’s is extremely pronounced. You know how she’s got her tongue out in 75% of the photos we post? That’s because she’s got her tongue out all the time. She only knows how to move it in that one direction. And in order to effectively eat food, your tongue has to move in lots of (other) directions. So, it's cute, but it's a problem. We’ll be working on that.
- Clara likes to be in control. She has consistently done better with gnawing a piece of food she can hold, or even squeezing puree from one of those pouch things than with a spoon coming at her. We’ve got to work on getting her to trust us to bring a spoon towards her mouth.
So, what does it mean?
- Right now we’re going to continue seeing this speech pathologist on a weekly basis for feeding therapy. She’s given us several strategies to begin working with Clara on at home, to help her get that tongue moving in the right ways. We’ll practice hard twice a day at home and continue to layer more strategies on top of each other until we begin to see some progress.
- We are going to also involve a dietician (Oh yes! One more person involved in Clara’s care! Delightful!) to help us make sure that between the milk she gets from a bottle and the food she eats in her high chair, she’s still getting the calories and nutrition that she needs to grow.
- This is going to be difficult. We’ve got some big obstacles to overcome here. It was nice to hear her recognize that a) this is not easy and b) there is an enormous amount of pressure on us to get her to eat. I sometimes feel like everyone thinks that this will just happen naturally and that it’s not hard. It was nice to have those feelings of pressure and worry affirmed and feel like someone is interested in helping us find the answers that will help alleviate some of that pressure in the weeks and months ahead.
Thanks for your continued prayers for us regarding Clara’s eating. We know that she has worked hard to overcome a lot in her little life and are prayerful that she’ll jump this hurdle, too. All in good time, of course…
Speaking of eating, here's our girl in some super cute Christmas bibs, made and sent to us by a faithful blog follower! Thanks, Lindsay!!! It's the best part of feeding time!