I have gotten a few questions on the last post that I want to answer.
Have you had her tested for giardia and h-pylori?
She was tested for giardia and all other parasites when we first arrived home...all negative. We have not had her tested for h-pylori, although I've been reading a lot about it lately. Since diarrhea is her only "symptom" and we are seeing improvement for the first time since she's been home, we're thinking its probably not that but will have her tested if the diet changes and supplements don't fix the issue.
What I want to know, is how did you get Zoya to eat solids like goldfish AND feed herself??? (Asked by an adoptive mama who says her 2 year old daughter with DS is having trouble eating solid foods and will spit out many foods that have texture to them). Also, she still drinks from a bottle/sippy cup and will not hold it. I try putting her hands on there to help me hold it, but she usually pulls away. She won't feed herself, though she's picked up a couple of fruit puffs herself (yay!) and put them in her mouth. Any advice, or previous blog posts I can read? Thanks!
Zoya was on soft foods only for about the first month to two of being home. She also had an aversion to textured foods and would spit things out. When she first came home she would only eat baby food, soup with mushed up bread in it, or anything that was blended into a smoothie-like texture. The key is finding a therapist who specializes in feeding and sensory issues! In our state the Occupational Therapists are the ones who work on feeding goals as well as sensory goals. I know in some states Speech Therapists are the ones who are responsible for working toward feeding goals. Either way, try to find a great therapist who knows a lot about feeding issues AND sensory issues as they are almost always interrelated in our kiddos with DS. Some things that worked for Zoya (suggested by our OT) were to use a Nuk Brush and a Chew Tube to "wake up" her mouth before all feedings. We would rub the nuk brush all around her mouth and tongue and then we'd put the chew tube to the back of her teeth and eventually she got the drift to bite down on it repeatedly. We also bought a vibrating tooth brush before going to Ukraine and that is also a nice oral-motor stimulation tool. I also just learned that you can buy a vibrating Nuk Brush! Our kids are not used to chewing because (at least in Zoya's case) they fed her at break-neck speed and the food barely touched her tongue before it was down her throat. She was never given the opportunity to learn to chew or even suck. She barely had any input oral-motor wise so she had no idea what to do with the food and her brain had no idea how to process the textures and feelings of having food in her mouth. So oral motor input basically wakes up the mouth before eating and also helps to train the brain to accept different textures and foods. Some of these issues occur in children with DS who did not have the orphanage background as well, simply due to sensory processing issues.
In addition to this, the single best piece of advice I got from out OT was to LET ZOYA PLAY WITH ANY NEW FOOD before expecting her to eat it! This really worked with Zoya. I would give her new food and let her just play with it with her hands a couple times before I expected her to eat it. Imagine being blindfolded and expected to eat whatever was put in your mouth...yuck! When we see our food we at least know what the texture will likely be like....Zoya had no idea...so she was dealing with a new texture and a new taste, which would cause her to spit it out. Here I was just putting it on a fork and trying to put it right in her mouth. As soon as I let her play with it with her hands she usually eventually put the food into her own mouth. By letting her play with her food and get the tactile input, it seemed to prepare her brain in a weird way. All I can say is that IT WORKED. So let her play with her food....if she won't touch it, try to put it in her hands, or just leave it in front of her for a little while with no pressure. Some other suggestions would be to put little crumbs of cookies or graham crackers in some pudding, start with real small pieces and work your way up so she can start tolerating bigger pieces. Start with it small enough so she won't be able to push the pieces of food out...it would just be like a grainy texture first and then you can slightly and slowly increase the size of the cookie pieces you're putting in there. You can do the same with rice in baby food or other soft foods. If she likes the little Gerber puffs, see if she will eat them with a little yogurt mixed in. This is how we started with Zoya and worked out way up.
As far as not wanting to hold the cup/bottle....we (with the help of our wonderful OT again) got Zoya off the bottle after only a month home. We skipped sippy cups all together because Zoya had a hard time getting the idea of tipping her head back to actually get the liquid from her bottle or sippy cup. She could only feed herself if we laid her on her back. So we went right to straws (which are supposed to be better for oral-motor development and speech anyways) so that she didn't have to tip the bottle. She really doesn't have to hold the cup either, she can just stick her neck out and sip:) Although Zoya does fine holding her straw cup. If you need ideas for teaching drinking from a straw, buy A Rubbermaid Juice Box that you can squeeze the juice from the container into her mouth a tiny bit to teach her how to suck from a straw.
Feeding issues are often caused by sensory processing issues so my other overall suggestion would be to find a good therapist who knows a lot about sensory processing disorder/issues and work with your child so she is better able to process any and all sensory input. Doing sensory therapy and sensory play helped Zoya in many many ways, including feeding issues!!
What is Nutritional Response Testing?
In a nut shell it is a way to figure out what exact nutrients each individual body is lacking. The overall idea is that our bodies only know how to heal themselves, but we have to give them the right nutrients in order to do so. So many health conditions are caused by our awful diets...and all of the chemicals and additives and unnatural ingredients in all of our foods today. If you want to read more you can check it out HERE.