Several people asked me to talk about the therapy in more detail so I thought I would give you all a play by play from our session today.
A therapy meal has 4 stages:
(taken from the handout we were given, credit to Kay A. Toomey, PH.D)
1. Sensory Preparation- children participate in sensory "calming" or sensory "jazzing"
For this stage our lovely Occupational Therapist Kendra brought a bunch of her sensory "toys" for the boys to set up an obstacle course. She let the boys decide where to put everything and how they would carry out the course.
Aiden especially loved the "wooden bouncy thing" ... not sure what it is actually called lol!
Kendra had the boys go through the course a few times each and they seriously could have kept going they had so much fun.
Owen was a huge fan of the roller board thing...
They even had fun cleaning up...
This is a video I took of Aiden doing the whole course that they set up...
2. Starting Routine- each child sits in their assigned chair and blow bubbles
- every child in turn washes and dries hands
- each child is passed a plate and a napkin
- each child helps serve themselves
I actually forget what the point of the blowing bubbles was... but I am sure there was a good reason for it! The kids loved it of course.
3. Feeding- move through sequence of steps to accepting foods
- children are positively reinforced for ALL levels of food interaction (imitation, touch, praise, comments, clap, cheer)
- do not force the child to eat
The foods we used in today's session were (in order):
- apples - cut up/peeled
- peasr - cut up/peeled (similar to apple shape)
- vanilla yogourt
- orange cheese circles - cut orange cheese into round slices
- carrots - cut into circles
- sweet potato chips
- round rice crackers
- banana - cut into circle slices
- banana chips
- dried apricots
- high cal fruit drinks
Basically the kids were encouraged to touch, smell, taste and generally "explore" each food item. Kendra would ask the questions and help them compare the foods- for example how a pear slice feels different from an apple slice.
She gave Aiden a visual schedule to put up on the wall beside him so he would know exactly what was going on.
And you know what? It worked amazingly well.
Owen actually tried EVERY SINGLE FOOD that was offered!! He even ate a dried apricot!!
I was so impressed. Seriously.
And Aiden actually touched and smelled ALL the foods and tasted most of them!!! That is pretty incredible. He ATE YOGURT willingly for the first time ever. He took a bite of a pear slice for the first time ever. He ate sweet potato chips! I had to restrain myself from jumping up and down with excitement. (no. I am not exaggerating.)
It was a great experience. I think the meal part took about an hour... and Aiden got a little restless at the end but Kendra managed to engage him pretty quickly. One of the goals was to get him comfortable just having different foods on the table. At one point he got a bit overwhelmed with all the different types of food but he still stayed. Amazing.
4. Clean Up Routine- signal "all done", "snack is over", "time to clean up"
- each child helps throw away their paper items and left over food
- each child helps to wash table
- each child in turn washes and dries hands
Most children with Autism have eating "issues". Many of them have a very restricted diet of what they will and will not eat. Aiden fits into that category and we are really excited to be doing feeding therapy!!
I am seriously so thankful for a wonderful paediatric Occupational Therapist and the Canadian government for providing her services to us for free!
Our assignment is to do the exact same meal once on our own this week and Kendra will return for Therapy Session #2 next week! I'll keep you updated :)