How Does Feeding Relate to Sensory Issues?

This is a continuation of our series on feeding and sensory issues. 

Many times parents will tell us that a child doesn’t seem to have any sensory issues, but then goes on to say that he only likes to eat five items. Did you know that a limited diet is often a sensory-based issue? How does feeding relate to sensory issues?

Textures in our mouth:

When we have tactile problems in our body, it’s in our mouth too. Our mouth is not a separate part of us—our body is all one piece. So if we have problems with textures on our body, we probably have them in our mouth as well. Some of our kids don’t like certain textures. Some of them don’t like things that are salty, or things that are sweet. Many of them have bilateral issues, where they only chew food on one side of their mouth because they can’t integrate both sides, just like when we have weakness in our core area and can’t integrate by crossing the midline.

Chewing issues:

Many of our kids have motor planning issues. This can lead to not being able to chew properly, or to properly move that food down into their throat and swallow. These kids are “lazy” eaters. They want the “chicken nugget diet,” which is what we call “predigested foods.” These are soft foods like cheese, chicken nuggets, and french fries. They like these because they don’t have to work hard to eat them. They don’t want to eat food that’s going to require work or force them to chew, because they have these strength and motor planning issues. 

So remember, the mouth is part of the rest of the body, and feeding is a part of the whole sensory process. It’s very important to address these issues both because of nutritional issues, but also because feeding is a highly social thing. We are constantly expected to eat with our families, and with other people. We want to work really hard to make sure our kiddos are integrating in their mouth as well as they are in the rest of their body.  If you have specific questions regarding your child, please give us a call. 

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