Some children are picky eaters. Everything good for them is yucky, and Mommy is a meanie for trying to make them eat icky food. Perhaps these children are simply rebelling or trying to get attention—or perhaps they have Sensory Processing Disorder. Children who have SPD may suffer from oral defensiveness, meaning that certain types of foods feel bad in their mouths or may even choke them. This condition has obvious and less obvious consequences that can affect children and parents alike for years to come.
Planning a meal for a kid with SPD can be difficult because such children generally base their ability and desire to eat food on its texture rather than taste. Even if a child likes the way a particular food tastes, he or she may balk at eating it because it feels mushy, slimy, stringy, etc. Parents who are trying to fix supper will need to engage in trial and error tests, sometimes having to revise their battle plans when previously acceptable food preparations are suddenly rejected by the SPD child. This can also put a strain on parents because they either have to adjust their eating styles to suit their SPD children or they have to prepare the child’s food separately, which might not be easier. Children who have extreme SPD may only be willing to eat a few types of foods, which is bad for their nutrition and health.
Nutritionists have long been touting the value of balanced diets, but the child with Sensory Processing Disorder neither understands nor cares about proper nutrition. All the child with SPD knows is that peas feel mushy, celery feels stringy, and tomatoes are slimy. While most children might not know the word “fibrous,” children with SPD would likely apply the term to citrus fruits with a puckered face or a stuck-out tongue. Whole grains in bread might feel lumpy; meat might feel too greasy. Each child is different, but one problem remains the same: nutrition—or the lack thereof.
Having SPD does not mean that a child or adult cannot enjoy these foods that are difficult to eat, however. In some cases, the child might simply overcome this textural aversion on his or her own due to enjoying the taste of the food. In other cases, therapy can help children gradually add multiple foods to their diets. This approach can also be beneficial because qualified professionals will be able to set up a nutritious diet that is right for each individual child. Those who do not wish to seek therapy for their children, however, may still be able to add nutritious foods to their children’s diets by trying such techniques as food processing, oral stimulation, and lots of patience.
In addition to problems with nutritional deficiency, picky eating associated it SPD can lead to problems with achieving and maintaining an optimal weight. Quite often when an adult or child simply refuses to eat a wide variety of foods weight loss, and even weight gain, may be the result. Weight gain can occur even in the presence of nutritional deficiencies if the foods the individual chooses to eat are high fat and/or sugar instead of nutritious whole foods. Weight issues should be addressed with appropriate recommendations made for the individuals needs, be it an adult or a child. Nutritionally complete powders that provide both macro and micro nutrients may be implemented to assist weight gain in drastic cases although ultimately, addressing the issues surrounding foods in order to correct eating is the primary goal. In the case of overweight individuals, appropriate weight loss diets will need to be applied and occasionally the use of prescription weight loss medications may be appropriate.
People with SPD are prone to Irritable Bowel Syndrome due not only to nutritional problems stemming from textural difficulties but also muscular difficulties that may make defecating difficult. A balanced diet greatly helps the bowels move the way they are supposed to, but Sensory Processing Disorder can add the obstacle of improper sensation. SPD can, essentially, make the body unable to tell when the bowels are full and need to be emptied; it can also impede bowel movement in terms of emptying the bowels. Anxiety can also hinder bowel movement, and being unable to properly defecate can be stressful on children and adults alike.
Unfortunately, constipation is often the result and this can lead to further complications such as hemorrhoids. Unless treated properly, hemorrhoids can compound the anxiety surrounding the bowel movement because of the pain the motion creates. Appropriate treatment for both the constipation and hemorrhoids is essential and in addition to addressing dietary concerns, many adults with SPD may benefit from using Venapro, a natural product that aims to regulate bowel function and shrink hemorrhoids. For children, the primary focus will be on treating any anxiety surrounding defecating as well as correcting dietary imbalances.
Parents can help children with SPD become potty trained by, if possible, determining the nature of their children’s problems with bowel movements. Introducing more fruits and vegetables in the diet can help, but the child might be afraid of falling in the toilet or even pf pooping itself. Decorating the bathroom differently, talking through the process of bowel movements with the child, and making sure the child is comfortable while sitting on the toilet are all possibilities that might improve the toileting experience.
The line between working with SPD and letting kids get away with too much can be thin sometimes, and food is no exception. Parents must firmly try to get children to eat a wider variety of food for the children’s sakes, but pushing too hard can trigger resistance and withdrawal.