This was a hard post for me to write because I have a hard time asking for help. But I have been putting it off long enough so here goes. Sasha has been home for just over a year and we are still having so many issues surrounding his eating habits and food. I honestly thought it would have gotten better by this time... well to be fair, it has gotten better but it is still extremely difficult. Out of all the issues he could have come home with after being institutionalized for the first 18 months of his life... this is really the only one he has and for that we are grateful. But it is still very difficult and now I am turning to my blog for some much needed advice. I don't even know where to start because there are just so many things. Please if anyone has any ideas at all about any of this... either ideas about helping or just if you have been in the same position and want to give some support... please, please just leave a comment. I would greatly appreciate any help and encouragement we can get.
I know that as you are reading this, some might think that Sasha is just trying to control the situation or us... which I am sure he is to an extent. But when it comes to food, especially when you have a child that is so emotionally sensitive about everything involving food, there is only so much you can do in terms of being strict. We have also tried to get help from our OT and another OT that specializes in issues such as Sasha's to no avail. We are basically on our own and that is why I am asking other adoptive parents out there for help. So please, I welcome any and all advice and encouragement at this point. Here are the main issues we face on a daily basis...
*Sasha still refuses to have any independence at the table. At the beginning, I completely understood this. He needed to gain our trust and we were more than willing but now it has been over a year and I am a little frustrated. I am frustrated that he simply does not want to do anything himself. He can drink out of his cup himself but he won't. Even if the straw is in his mouth, he will not drink unless we get involved. He will scream and yell help or please until we give in. Most of the time we don't but honestly, when he is begging "please" and "help"... sometimes it is hard.
Usually, if he doesn't stop the behavior, we just send him to his room for a timeout but truthfully, it is not working. He will stop crying and then when we bring him back to the table, it starts all over again. This has been going on for months and months and months... a long time! He gets so dehydrated during the day so it is hard when we see him refusing to drink when we KNOW he can. He will on occasion but it is few and far between.
As far as eating independently, we are not even close. Not one bit. He has refused any sort of adaptive device his OT or we have made him. He will not even try to feed himself with or without an adaptive device. I would think at some point he would want that independence. Am I wrong to think that he would want this, especially after a year of being home?
*Sasha still refuses to chew. He knows how to chew. He loves his chew stick he got from his OT and displays, through this activity, that he knows how to chew. But when it comes time to eating, he just won't. He will mush stuff around in his mouth and then if it gets stuck on the roof of his mouth, which it often does, he will then ask for some milk to help wash it down. But he will not chew it. This is still limiting his food choices greatly. If he thinks he won't like it or that he will have to chew too much he does one of two things. He spits it out right away or he locks his mouth shut so we can't even get him to try it. There is only so much yogurt, oatmeal, cottage cheese, pasta (you get the point) a boy can have... he has got to graduate to other stuff at some point.
*Sasha will not take any food by hand. Everything, absolutely everything, has to be given to him on a spoon. If we try to feed him things by hand, he locks his mouth shut and refuses to open it. We have tried everything from the baby things that just melt in your mouth, to cookies, to ice cream, to sandwiches... seriously, we have tried it all and to no avail. How do you get a child to try things when they just lock their mouth shut or spit out the food (if we are extremely lucky to actually get it in his mouth)? I know some people might say just don't give in and do this day after day but I have two problems with this thinking when it comes to Sasha... he has too many, way too many, emotional issues with food to do this (we don't want to see him regress) and secondly, honestly I think he is so stubborn that he would literally let himself starve rather than eat something from our hand. Seriously!
*He still gets very emotional about food but I will say this is actually getting better, thankfully. There are not as many tears now. He knows he can trust us and has really made leaps and bounds in this area. But does this ever fully go away? Or do some kids always have these emotional issues with food that they just can't get rid of because they were so psychologically damaged at such a young age in regards to food? We, well actually I, think that if we are too strict with him regarding all these issues that he will actually regress in this area. Am I right to fear this?
If you have stayed with me through this long, personal post I really, truly appreciate it. Any advice and/or encouragement would mean so much to me. Thank you.