There are several common questions (and misconceptions) that many people have when dealing with children and picky eaters. And it’s tough because there is so much conflicting information out there on the internet. Here are the answers to a few of the questions we hear most often.
Question: Is it ever too late to get help for my picky eater? My child is 12 and still only eats like 5 foods. Is therapy only for little ones?
Answer: No! Many feeding therapists often see children who are older and can make significant gains. Many times, older children with feeding difficulties may have undiagnosed conditions that make eating challenging that they have been struggling with their entire lives. A feeding evaluation or therapy can help these issues come to light and may provide some real answers and help.
Question: My child is “picky”. I am not sure if it is a sensory thing or maybe behavioral. Is it always one thing or the other?
Answer: Not always. Many times, sensory issues, like not wanting certain textures in our mouths, can lead to behavioral issues down the road. For example, if a child is young, and does not like the feel of an egg in his mouth, he may appear to have “behaviors” like screaming or spitting out food because he cannot express verbally what he does not like. Over time, this screaming and spitting out occurs at more and more meals, and the child will develop many behaviors during meals in response to aversions. That is why it is so important to get to the root cause of your child’s feeding difficulties, and why it is crucial that you find a professional who knows how to work with both sensory AND behavioral feeding challenges.
Question: If I give my child a variety of foods as a baby/toddler, they will automatically love a variety of foods. That is what I have always heard. Is that true?
Answer: Absolutely not. It is time to spread the word and stop all of the mom (and dad) guilt surrounding picky eating! You can give your child the world in terms of food variety when they are young, and you can still end up with a severely fussy or hesitant eater. While exposure is super important, and highly recommended, no amount of exposure at 18 months old can guarantee a super adventurous eater at 4 years old.
Question: My child has a diagnosis of Autism. Is it normal for them to also have eating challenges with this type of diagnosis?
Answer: It is extremely common for children on the Autism Spectrum to also have some type of feeding challenge. While it may be sensory in nature, behavioral, oral-motor related, or a combination, children with ASD often have special feeding concerns that may need therapy to overcome. You may hear things such as:
As you can see, there are a number of questions out there regarding pediatric feeding challenges! Please let us know your thoughts and what questions you may be having with your big or little ones and Kelly would be happy to answer them!
Kelly is an SLP and a feeding specialist in Orlando, Florida. If you have questions, please reach out to Kelly at Picky Eaters Online at firstname.lastname@example.org or check out her website at https://pickyeatersonline.com.
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