Today I am going to share with you how circles can encourage your Sensory Seeker (and avoider) to try new taste sensations. Not just circles but how other shapes, sounds and interests can help prior to eating. Plus some ideas for inspiration.
My Sensory Seeker as regular readers may know, is a bit (a lot) of a fussy eater. We try not to make too much of a fuss and provide him with foods throughout the day that we know he likes (so he doesn’t starve). See my previous post here. Well I was reading in the Out of Sync Child has fun about ‘Fed Up by Angela Gilbert. Basically it is about how playing with things associated with the food presented helps consumption, especially of new flavours/textures. This means that if before a meal consisting of say food shaped into circles, if the child plays with circles before eating then they are more likely to try new taste sensations.
So what foods are round?’
- Carrots, peas, cucumber, tomatoes,
- Pancakes, muffins, scones
- Spaghetti hoops
- Rice cakes
- Blueberries, grapes, cherries, melon balls, oranges
Can you think of others?
In fact with the use of shape cutters you could turn any food into circles. This could be adapted for any other shapes, including their interests – such as using Lego cutters for Lego obsessed children. This can also extend to noisy food – making loud sounds before eating food that can be loud too (popcorn, crisps, nuts,raw carrots, apples etc).
Activities with Circles
The most obvious choice for me at the moment is to let them play with Loom bands (age dependent and make sure they are not likely to put them in their mouth).Other ideas that spring to mind are with balloons, balls, bubbles, bubble wrap, beanbags. Make circles from toys – that can be anything cars, Lego, dinosaurs. Make sensory circles by drawing in mud, shaving foam, sand, rice, etc. How about craft – paper plates, toilet roll holders – again any material can be cut into a circle. The sellotape and glue-sticks are also circular. The ideas are endless and can be adapted for the child’s interests and sensory needs.
When my Sensory Seeker was younger I wrote about Fussy eating. Since then we discovered that he has Sensory Processing Disorder, so encouraging him to eat food was not going to be as easy as we first thought. The thing to remember is that are lots of different senses at work when it comes to food. Writing down what he would eat made us feel better as the list was actually a lot longer than we first thought. Trouble is depending on how that food is presented can be a key factor in whether your Sensory Seeker (or avoider) will eat. With me I have found it is a lot of trial and error – maybe keep a diary.
Our Sensory Seeker prefers food to be cold and he does not like foods to be touching. We found that a segregated plate helped, so that he could visually see that the foods were not touching. At a party someone asked if he wanted a cheeseburger but then put it on his plate on top of tomato ketchup. He just would not eat it. Now it’s not even that he does not like ketchup on his cheeseburger, and if he had put the two together that would have been fine. I have long since learnt not to try understand the logic behind how he behaves but just to try and best help him. In this instance I got him another cheeseburger (without ketchup on the bottom). Similarly he will not even try to eat toad-in-the-hole – but loves both sausages and Yorkshire puddings.
To encourage eating we tend to put at least one food on his plate that we know he does like, and one that is new, or we would like him to try. We often use bribery (pudding/computer games etc) rewards to encourage him. We start slowly – maybe getting him to touch the food for several presentations, then lick it, before eating a small piece. We pick our battles. So although we would love him to use cutlery we have decided that stretching his diet is more important for us at this time. Or if he wants to play with the food, and smear it over himself first, we tend to let him do that too – as we know it can result him in eating more. We do have to be careful that he does not stuff too much food into his mouth though – especially hard foods such as raw carrot. We have managed to get more foods into our Sensory Seeker by him seeing them as a treat – such as pancakes and bananas for breakfast.
Things to consider about mealtimes for the child with Sensory Processing Disorder:
- What smells are around – from food, other people and the general environment?
- What is the temperature like – again from food, for the child, and in the environment?
- The appearance of the food – how does it look? Do the foods touch each other? Is it clutter on the plate? Our Sensory Seeker will not eat chicken roll that has bread crumbs around the edges – even if you remove it first.
- What colours – is your child with Sensory Processing Disorder under or over stimulated by the colours of the food or their environment?
- The textures of the food – is it lumpy, smooth etc?
- Is the food cooked? – Our Sensory Seeker loves raw carrots but will not entertain them cooked.
If you have any more hints, tips, problems or ideas please add them in the comments below.