We have all been preoccupied with the coronavirus pandemic, but how can we not be. Good news is that this year, one since this post was originally written, we have a vaccine! I’ve re-written it with reflection in mind and the fact that there is concern. April is also Autism Awareness month and April 2nd is World Autism Day. In that spirit, I wanted to start this month off with a post along that theme.
Many have resorted to using more and more technology with their children. The paper, “Association of Early-Life Social and Digital Media Experiences With Development of Autism Spectrum Disorder–Like Symptoms,” was published online in JAMA Pediatrics and is available at this link. Don’t be alarmed, in response to comments about this article, it is noted that there is more need for research.https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapediatrics/article-abstract/2772821?resultClick=1. Look at how the spectrum of online relationships has changed us. How does this impact your family and how does it impact development of relationships in which communication is already a challenge?
The impact of COVID19 on development of social skills has not yet been measured yet. This is a significant area of concern for those who live on the autism spectrum. As a result, continued monitoring milestones of your child is imperative, Parents can do so using a screening tool that I have referenced below. There are also resources for adults.
Continuing from the theme of earlier this week in terms of preparing for the holidays, part of doing so is to think about meals and what will be served, how many people are coming, what ingredients you will need and then cooking. If you have a child who can’t tolerate eating different foods then YOU have an additional layer that is so emotionally ridden. If you have a child who cannot tolerate the smell of foods cooking or the site of those which you have on the counter how will you prepare them? Food is such a basic thing that we need for every day. Working with parents each week with children who have feeding challenges reminds me of the emotional influence that problems in this area pose to families. Having taken Dr. Toomey’s training this past fall, I became aware of information that might be able to help you and I have already found its benefit during my daily practice. It is known as a sensory-based feeding therapy approach, building on each of them. http://autism.sesamestreet.org/daily-routine-cards/?fbclid=IwAR0VKcWb_ZAHzheWdgT7ekqhwG_NuW8JLOMtCHZyT4PnolRXeyq6oeXxLSw
“The SOS Approach to Feeding program was developed by and copyrighted by Dr. Kay Toomey. Please note, all materials, documents and forms taken from the SOS Approach to Feeding program are copyrighted and cannot be reproduced in any form without the written permission of Dr. Kay Toomey. For more information on the SOS Approach to Feeding program, please visit http://www.sosapproach.com.”
The SOS Feeding approach is appropriate for children that are “problem feeders” and not “picky eaters”, which can sometimes be difficult to distinguish between. Picky eaters are those that have a limited variety of foods and will not easily eat, but they often will reluctantly touch or taste new food. Picky eaters do not need SOS feeding therapy. A problem feeder, however, has an even more restricted variety of foods with more severe reactions to interacting with non-preferred foods and is a candidate for SOS feeding therapy. Here are some questions to consider if you are concerned about your child’s eating:
Does your child have a decreased range or variety of foods (less than 20)?
If your child gets “burned out” on food and takes a break from it, will they refuse that food still, after the break?
Does your child refuse entire categories of food groups (proteins, vegetables, etc.) or texture groups (hard foods, soft cubes, puree textures)?
Does your child almost always eat different foods at a meal than the rest of the family?
Have you reported concerns about your child’s feeding across multiple well-child check-ups?
If you answered “yes” to several of the above questions, talk to your child’s pediatrician about a referral for an evaluation to determine if feeding therapy would be warranted for your child.
Please note, the term “problem feeder” is used by the SOS Feeding approach program to delineate children who are outside the normal range of age-appropriate feeding behaviors, i.e. only being a “picky eater”.
Is your child a red flag for a referral? Know that in this season of giving that you can be given the hope of improved ability to help your child enjoy eating!
The blog post https://blog.asha.org/2019/05/13/the-best-toys-for-slps-are-the-toys-that-do-nothing/ that recently appeared in the ASHA Leader resonates with me. I put individual links to which the author refers at the bottom of this post, So does the book “If You Give a Mouse an iPhone (of course available on Amazon in print). Here is a link to the story being read https://youtu.be/S3nVxt6_lAc If you can’t get it otherwise and are not familiar with it – the mouse is given an iPhone.. he uses it (viewing something that is not defined) and is unaware of his surroundings on a trip. The battery of the phone runs out and the result is a tantrum.
With the new American Academy of Pediatrics Guidelines for Family Media Plans that i talked about in a recent post, I really did not give any suggestions for the way to redirect your child when the screen is not visible. That led to this post and the awareness that there are so many things that you can do together. Indeed as my colleague wrote you can really be “the best toy!”.
In NYC https://www.nybg.org/learn/kids-teens/childrens-gardening-program/ and in other cities there are most likely similar types of activities. Novel – if this is not the case is using an avocado seed, allowing it to sprout roots by soaking it in water and allowing it to grow in a pot with dirt. Plant peas from the pods or use others from fruits.
INEXPENSIVE AND SPECIFIC FOR THOSE WITH SENSORY CHALLENGES: