Eating only blended foods at 3? Why?
“My child has no difficulties speaking, yet, he has difficulties eating food!
I need to blend everything or make mashed foods. He gags the minute food is rough or has texture. He is already 3 years old!
We rely a lot on milk for his main nutrition. He has no other medical condition.”
If your child has no other medical conditions that affects his or her feeding and swallowing skills, dyspraxia MAY be one of the reasons causing you distress. Do you always have to plan your child’s meal in advance? Are you always worrying if they have sufficient nutrition to grow up healthily and well? Is the stress of settling their meal times putting you off from bringing them for trips? We understand. These are the common worries that parents face.
Dyspraxia occurs when the child has difficulties planning and coordinating his muscle movements. There is no physical damage to their nerves or muscles to explain why they encounter these issues. These issues may occur with or without any impact on their speech sound production. The child with dyspraxia will have difficulties co-ordinating the movements of their lips, tongue, jaw, palate and throat muscles.
Eating and drinking skills may appear reflexive and easily learnt by most of us. However, at times, children with dyspraxia may need to be taught explicitly through motor drills on how to move their lips, tongue and jaw during the act of chewing or drinking. During eating and drinking, movements of the lips, tongue and jaw need to be coordinated for them to manage food in their mouth. Often, children who have oral dyspraxia may have encountered instances where they choked on solids and subsequently developed “phobia” or “hypersenstivity” to eating such foods. Hence, their gag reflex may be very strong and will gag the minute food has texture. They MAY present as being a FUSSY EATER and only preferring blended foods. However, the root cause may actually be due to their difficulties in chewing. They have an ORO-MOTOR SKILLS DIFFICULTY MORE THAN FUSSINESS.
The speech therapist will help to determine if your child has difficulties chewing or has sensory issues or both. Diagnosing dyspraxia is complex and often may take a few sessions of observation. It is generally recognised that children with dyspraxia will require regular and direct therapy with the speech therapist to learn new oro-motor skills. Parents and family are strongly advised to continue exercises and home programs planned by the speech therapist outside of therapy sessions (e.g. at home or at school), to help them generalise. Therapy will involve oromotor exercises and food play to help your child.
Seek help early! This is treatable!