Originally published on Oct. 30, 2017.
So many of the children I see with feeding struggles have sensory needs, either with or without other developmental and physical issues. Sensory issues are a big topic, and not to be covered in just one post.
So, this being a feeding-related blog, I thought I would start with helping your child with sensory processing differences to be still at the table.
I spend a lot of time at work talking to people about how children need to be able to be still and stable in order to progress their feeding skills. And that's true (see here for some tips on adding stability to your child's seating). But a key part of developing stability is getting enough movement. And some of our children just need to move more than others!
So, if we want our child to be still at the table long enough for them to explore food, we might need to adapt our seating a little to give them what they need.
- Add wobble- chair adaptations that let your child stay on the move are great. They can range from cushions and wobble cushions of various kinds, to whole different pieces of seating that your child needs to stay moving on to stay upright. Adding wobble will give your child additional vestibular and proprioceptive input.
- Add weight/resistance/deep tactile pressure- Adaptations that add weight will give your child deep tactile pressure (which has a tendency to be calming), and add resistance (which will add proprioception, also generally calming and supportive of improved body awareness). Wearing a weighted rucksack, sitting with a weighted cushion on your lap, sitting with a weighted shoulder bag on to eat are all examples of this. You could also try sitting in a bean bag chair (that will give you more feedback through your whole body).
- Add movement - Adapting chairs to allow fidgeting with your feet is also a popular thing to try- various fidget bands exist that you can fit to your chair. You could also experiment with giving the child something to fidget with with their hands.
There are lots of things we can do more directly to help our children with sensory difficulties to widen their range of foods, and to approach foods with less anxiety, and I'll be talking about these in other posts. But it's important to think about whether we have helped them to get their bodies into a calm and receptive state before we ask them to push themselves and try new things with foods.
All photos in this post are courtesy of sensorydirect.com. Thankyou to them!
Posts from Find the Key Speech Therapy are intended for information. They are not intended to, and cannot, take the place of advice from an appropriately qualified Speech and Language Therapist who knows you child. Find the Key Speech Therapy does not take responsibility for the use of any advice without appropriate professional guidance.