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?
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:
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!
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