November 11, 2014

Our Journey with Feeding Therapy

My son has trouble with foods.  Since he was an infant, eating has been hard for him.  He nursed, but not really well.  He ate baby foods, but not a wide variety of them.  By the time he was eating table foods, it was a 'typical' toddler diet of chicken nuggets and some fries if we went out.  I was told it was a phase, and would get better.  I kept offering him other foods, and went through phases of 'making' him know, where you say eat one bite of each thing before you leave the table.  This does NOT work if they have sensory issues!  He would cry and carry one for an hour sometimes, and usually went to bed hungry.  If he did try the foods, he often gagged.  It didn't take long for me to realize that something wasn't right.

Of course, I blamed my parenting skills first.  I should have 'made' him eat more variety when he was smaller.  I should have...what??  Pried his mouth open and shoved it in?  Started the power struggle over food at breakfast instead of letting him have pop-tarts or cereal?  No.  Making him anxious first thing in the morning or right before bed was not and is not the answer.  Yes, people probably do blame me for his eating habits, and think a good spanking will cure him.  It won't.
Yogurt has always been a winner
I heard about sensory processing disorder (SPD)  about 3 years ago now, not long after we started homeschooling.  It explained his sensitivity to noises, lights, foods and textures!  I was confident that if I learned enough about it, I could 'fix' him.  Well... I can't, but I am still learning and have found that outside help is needed.  He will simply try things for others that he won't at home.  Sigh.

What he eats at gatherings - nothing...or bread
In my previous post, I mentioned his start in therapy, where he attended Minds in Motion.  This had an academic focus - rewire their brains and they can learn more and focus better.  Its a good plan, but not quite enough.  The year following, in 2013, he had 20 visits with a pediatric
OT locally.  She introduced feeding therapy to us, but it wasn't a big focus.  I think 3 sessions included food - once with a smoothie, and twice with trying a variety of foods in little dixie cups.  We learned the steps to learning to like a new food.  With some foods, he can skip to the final step, but others require a combination of the other steps on various days.

1.  Smell it and look at it.
2.  Sniff and lick.
3.  Bite and spit it out.
4.  Bite, chew and spit it out.
5.  Chew and swallow.
6.  Repeat up to 7/15/20 times (depending on your OT/ nobody knows, really) and then
7.  He will like the food!  (maybe)

He knows the steps, and will sometimes try something now without me asking.  That's actually been the best strategy - never offer him anything new.  If he is interested, he will ask.   This eliminates anxiety for both of us.

Drinking: still his favorite restaurant activity
Now, how is the current feeding program working?  Much the same as with the previous OT, although Esther is consistent about doing the therapy each Thursday.  Instead of little cups, she prepares a paper plate with a variety of foods to try for him, and one for herself.  She lets him take the lead, choosing which food to try first.  He first tries to describe the food - crunchy, salty, etc. - then he can choose another.  After he has tried everything once, he goes back around again and finishes them up.  Even if he doesn't want to chew and swallow a particular food, he has to touch it and put it in his mouth, then spit it into the trash.  So far, he has tried everything, even though much of it does go in the trash.  So far, no current new favorite foods have surfaced, but no fits either.  I think when his 20 visits are over (per insurance rules), I should be able to recreate this process at home.  Once a week seems doable!

November 2, 2014

Fourth Grade, First Term 2014-15

Fourth grade!  I still can't believe its here, and we are 11 weeks into the curriculum (using Ambleside Online's Year 3.5) and 15 weeks into our official school days, due to finishing up year 3 over the summer and into August.  I am enjoying the book selections, especially catching up on the free reads (no narration required; we do these at bedtime) we missed from years 2 and 3.  Below are many of the books we are using this year.  The ones you can't see are e-books and audiobooks.

Fourth Grade Terms 1-2 books/AO 3.5
We are using MEP for math, which we started around March of this year.  It is a free program for K-12, and you can download everything you need and just print out the practice book and lesson plans (or keep those on your tablet to save paper!)  If this interests you, there are several fantastic posts on getting started with MEP on Jeanne's blog, Peaceful Day.

For copywork, I am using a 3rd grade penmanship book (orange one in above pic) to reinforce his cursive letters and word formation.  He does print with his occupational therapist, and she works with him on speed.  I work with him on fewer carefully done letters and words.  He is now to the point in the workbook where he gets back to copywork, which is copying poems and such word by word.

artwork learned from Draw Write Now book 2
We have backed off of spelling since summer, and he is now realizing how useful spelling actually is, especially when you want to tell your Minecraft friends something and can't type it. (Hey, whatever provides motivation!)  My intention was to use Seeing Stars: Symbol Imagery for Phonological and Orthographic Processing in Reading and Spelling, which I borrowed from the library and took notes on, to implement myself.  I ended up pushing too hard early this term, so quit on it, and will add it back in this week.  Seeing Stars helps with visualizing the letters and words in your mind, phonics and more.  (Keep in mind that for most kids, doing copywork then dictation the CM way will work!  My son has some vision challenges, so needed extra help.)

For Spanish, I've backed off of Rosetta Stone (one day a week) and have added Duolingo once or twice a week.  I'm looking into ULAT now, going over the teaching videos and figuring out how it would work for us.  Its free online and looks very complete, from what I've seen so far.

For picture study, music (classical, folk and hymns), Shakespeare, and now Plutarch's Lives, we are following the rotations at Ambleside Online.  These 'riches' really bring life into our homeschool, along with handicrafts, nature study and poetry.  He has now added 'painter' to his list of possible occupations, along with builder and weatherman. :)

Lookout, future painter at work!
AO Year 4 adds a jump in difficulty due to additional subjects and longer readings.  We are using a couple terms of year 3.5 to transition to those extra subjects more gradually, while the main readings are easier (also allowing him to build confidence in his own reading).  We added grammar in January during year 3, going through Simply Grammar very slowly.  We added 'real' Shakespeare this term, and just last week started Publicola by Plutarch.  I'm still debating adding Latin in Term 2...

We are almost done with What Would Jesus Do? (buddy reading), which along with memory work, has been our Bible time.  I'll go back to the list of stories we used in year 1 and 2 and finish it off for next term's Bible.  I'm doing poetry selections from some nice picture books I found at Half-Price Book Outlet (love that place!).  For history, science, literature, etc., we are following the AO schedule exactly.

All in all, term 1 of fourth grade has been a success, despite various health issues, new kittens, frequent babysitting and other life things trying to throw us off.