Heading back to school is going to look different for everyone depending on what school district your child attends. However, this school year has changed drastically due to the Corona-virus. We were told yesterday that one of the changes for this school year is no food group for our students. I expected this news was coming as we can not provide food therapy services without cross contamination. Extremely disappointing news as food group is a valuable resource for our students who struggle with eating whether it is a sensory issue or an oral motor problem. Food group gives them an opportunity to explore new foods, and practice oral motor skills needed to eat.This means I will have to get creative in how I provide my therapy services. It is still going to be important for our students with food aversions to be exposed to a variety of foods.Moving away from a direct hands on approach to providing a parent coaching model. Encouraging the parents to provide an opportunity for food play or messy play within the child's schedule at home.
All these changes got me thinking of what my video topic was going to be. I thought it would be beneficial for our students if I made videos related to food. In my videos I wanted to address some issues that my students face with food. In the first video I teach my friend cat who is a picky eater how not to be afraid of new foods. I begin by teaching cat the hierarchy of exploring foods. 1.) using the sense of sight to look at the different characteristics, 2.) exploring the texture by using the sense of touch, 3.) smelling the food with our nose, and 4.) bringing food near or up to our mouth to blow on it or kiss it.
The key factor is to let the child move at their own pace, and to continue to exposed them to new foods to build their comfort level. I try and model how to use imaginative play with food (for example using a banana as a pretend phone). Teaching children to have fun with food is the best way to eliminate the pressure of eating foods that may scare them or they have a negative aversion too. You may have seen your child gag at the sight or smell of a certain food and then they may shut down or have a big behavior as a way to escape uncomfortable foods. This is a great time to shift your approach to presenting new foods by eliminating their worry of having to eat the food. Instead focus on having fun with foods by changing your child's mindset allowing them to have a positive experience. You would be surprise what a game changer it is to remove the pressure, and to allow your child to get involved at their own pace. Giving them the control to create fun play schemes with food. One thing to keep in mind from a sensory aversion standpoint is that food group will not be about the quantity of food intake a child consumes. It is strictly about moving through the hierarchy to gain the comfort level and to desensitize to food characteristics that may be holding the child back from eating.
My second video is about Big Bear and his Big Appetite. I talk about using our big back teeth to chew our food like big bear. This is a great way for our kiddos who may have a oral motor deficit to learn to transition from munching with their front teeth to using there back teeth with a goal of developing a rotary chew. Big bear loves food and will often eat way too much. Unfortunately he ends up with a belly ache because he missed the internal signals of being full. I like to relate the stomach to a balloon. We can fill our balloon up till it’s full being mindful not to pop it. Using our interoception sense to tell our brain that our stomach is full. What is our interoception sense? Interoception is considered the 8th sense, and it is nerve receptors located throughout the body including internal organs, bones, muscle, and skin. These receptors send information to the brain. The brain interprets this information and uses it to tell us how we feel. In this video I teach how to do hot air balloon breathing as an awareness tool of our stomach being full.
What can we do to help our children develop their body awareness and teach
them to start tuning in to what their body feels like when it is balanced?
Incorporate these activities into their daily routine will help:
1.) Mindfulness – gives the person time to focus on their body and emotional state.
2.) Breathing exercises – like lazy 8 Breathing exercises are calming and also help us to pay attention to what is going on inside our bodies.
3.) Alerting activities – running, jumping, dancing will help you feel what a racing heart and fast breathing feels like.
4.) Heavy Work Activities – involve large muscles of the body. Activities that give resistance such as pushing, pulling, jumping, and lifting. Proprioception is good for body awareness and also for interoception.
5.) Yoga-focuses on listening to your body and providing good proprioceptive and vestibular input. It encourages you to look internally and focus on how the body and mind if feeling.
In my third video I thought it would be fun to teach children yoga poses that are food themed as another tool for exposure to learning about food. We talk about three different types of food: 1.) banana, 2.) apples, and 3.) pizza. I encourage the children to get creative and make up their own food related poses. Parents let your children teach you how to do their new food yoga poses. There are all kinds of extension activities you can do to have fun and build excitement around food. You could color food pictures, read stories about food, cut out food pictures to make a collage, play games with food like the game 'Hot Potato'. Let you child be a chef and make the menu, and help you prepare the dinner. I finish the video with a fine motor craft where I encourage the children to use different foods to paint a picture with. I used an orange, blueberries, and spinach leaves that I turned into a paintbrush. This is a another fun way to get your children interested in new foods without having to worry about eating the foods. The main take away from my blog is children learn through play, so make food fun and they may initiate more eating on their own. It make take longer than you had anticipated but do not throw in the towel just switch your approach up. Channel your inner child and show your kids how to have fun. If they see you enjoying food they will more than likely want to join in on the fun.
I hope you find my blog helpful to introduce new foods, encourage your little one to use their big back teeth to chew, or bring awareness to the internal signals of the stomach being full. Thank you for the continued support.
Today is a new day get out their and enjoy it!!!!!
Check out my videos from the links below