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Dr. Mark
Dr. Mark, Psychologist
Category: Parenting
Satisfied Customers: 5220
Experience:  Dr.Mark is a psychologist in private practice who works with parents and children in resolving family issues.
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We have a 3 year old boy, who will be 4 in August, and he had

Customer Question

We have a 3 year old boy, who will be 4 in August, and he had acid reflux as a baby which put a huge amount of stress on our family and our relationship. We have never really recovered as a couple but have done our best to maintain a good, healthy family environment. However, we now realise we have just been vainly trying to paper over the cracks. Our son is extremely fussy with his eating, despite our best efforts, and he very stubbornly refuses to eat what we put in front of him. There are occasions when he does like to eat vegetables but he will not eat fruit (apart from Fruit Pots) and it seems that if it needs a lot of chewing, i.e. meats etc, then he can't be bothered. I have tried my best to shield my wife from the stress of dealing with extreme issues but have needed up with her feeling forced out of the family unit, which was not my intention at all. I need tips on how to get our son eating healthily, more variety, reconnecting with his Mum, and generally making the home a lot happier.

Thank you
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Parenting
Expert:  Dr. Mark replied 3 years ago.

Hi! I'll be glad to be of help with this issue.


I can imagine how frustrating and worrisome this situation must be for you. Any behavioral issues this severe put a tremendous strain on the parents. And this strain is not only a strain on each parent individually, but also on the marriage. So it's a double strain. Our focus here, though, is on your son as that is your question.



Your son is 3 years old and his behavior is extreme. And this is actually the key to my answer to you that you need to consider and think about.You've asked me about tips on how to get him to act more within the normal range of behavior of 3-4 year olds with food. But tips is not what is needed here. This is because your son's behavior is too extreme, he's having serious difficulties integrating his sensory inputs. You've tried most of the "tips" and they haven't worked. I would think not from the symptoms you've described to me.


He must seem truly stubborn, oppositional and defiant. But almost certainly he is not doing this consciously. These are concepts that are beyond his years even if he is very precocious. Almost every child who is THIS picky in his eating is responding to an internal problem, not a relationship with you. So please keep that in mind as it will help you not be angry and frustrated with him. He's trying to cope with something that he can't express and he certainly doesn't understand.


My concern is for possible sensory integration issues. He's at the age where these disorders are diagnosed. So I'm going to give you a site that has two separate checklists of symptoms, one for each age group. I'd like you to read through both checklists, okay?


http://www.sensory-processing-disorder.com/SPD-symptom-checklist-for-infants-and-toddlers.html

http://www.sensory-processing-disorder.com/sensory-processing-disorder-checklist.html


Interestingly, I work on a case with a psychiatrist whose daughter was diagnosed with sensory integration disorder (SID), also called Sensor Processing Disorder (SPD). The fact that there is as yet no agreed upon name tells you how recent it has been that we have identified this problem and have begun formulating treatment protocols.


This psychiatrist had never heard of it before his daughter was diagnosed! He now knows a LOT about it. I think that your son needs to be evaluated for SPD. Now, finding someone who is competent to do this in your area is going to be a challenge. But not as much as even 5 years ago, I would think, in the UK as well as the US.


Textures are often so hard for a child with SPD. The way I've been trained in it: imagine if you had sandpaper being rubbed on your tongue. Kids with SPD can be so sensitive in their perception of textures that it can feel like that for them! Smells can be so hard. The psychiatrist's daughter would leave the room suddenly. They couldn't figure out why. They finally when she got old enough and they had learned enough were able to identify that there was a faint smell they couldn't pick up but that was driving her nuts and she had to get away.


So, here is the American SPD Foundation's directory:



http://www.sinetwork.org/directory/index.html


So, again, rather than seeking small adjustments, I urge you to first see if there is a sensory integration issue that needs treatment as a first step in helping your little boy. I very much hope there's someone in your area.


Okay, I wish you the very best!

My goal is for you to feel like you've gotten Great Service from me and the site. If we need to continue the discussion for that to happen, then please feel free to reply and we'll continue working on this. If the answer has given you the help you need, please remember to give a rating of 5 (Great Service) or 4 (Informative and helpful), or even 3 (Got the job done) button. This will make sure that I am credited for the answer and you are not charged anything more than the deposit you already made by pressing any of these buttons. Bonuses are always appreciated! If I can be of further help with any issue now or in the future, just put "For Dr. Mark" in the front of your new question, and I'll be the one to answer it. All the best, Dr. Mark

Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Thanks for the advice but we have gone through the checklist and there is only a couple of things which are true about our son. Therefore, we don't feel SPD is the answer. I think we may seek the help of an occupational therapist.
Expert:  Dr. Mark replied 3 years ago.
Good. I'm glad you went through the checklists and ruled it out. That's a positive.


An occupational therapist is a good next move here. Again, this is because his symptoms are more severe than usual "pickiness". So getting the OT's input will be very useful here. But I'm glad you can now move on in the ruling out process.


I wish you the very best!

My goal is for you to feel like you've gotten Great Service from me and the site. If we need to continue the discussion for that to happen, then please feel free to reply and we'll continue working on this. If the answer has given you the help you need, please remember to give a rating of 5 (Great Service) or 4 (Informative and helpful), or even 3 (Got the job done) button. This will make sure that I am credited for the answer and you are not charged anything more than the deposit you already made by pressing any of these buttons. Bonuses are always appreciated! If I can be of further help with any issue now or in the future, just put "For Dr. Mark" in the front of your new question, and I'll be the one to answer it. All the best, Dr. Mark

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