Wednesday, October 29, 2014

When My Son Quit Eating

The non eater in my house is my son Dylan. As many of you know, Dylan is autistic, suffers from sensory processing disorder and will only drink out of a cup. And it's not just any Cup it has to be one type of Cup. The Nuk active Cup with soft spout. The thing is, Dylan didn't always refuse food he actually used to be a very good eater He used to allow us to spoon feed him baby food, baby cereal, and he loved sweet potatoes out of the can.

When you teach a child with autism how to do something you need to practice it everyday for them to retain it. If they haven't got to the level of retention they need to do it independently, then they will lose their skill. I once was told there are no gray areas in autism. Once a skill is learned and they are able to do it independently they will do it just how you show them to do it. There is also regression. When a child with autism regresses, they have a sudden loss of a skill. The child could have already known how to do the skill independently but still regress and lose it.

I'm not entirely sure whether or not Dylan lost his skill of eating due to lack of retention or because of regression. I do actually feel pretty guilty about it. When Dylan was 5 months old I got pregnant again with his little sister Sofia. This was before we even knew that Dylan had autism. Dylan was diagnosed about 2 months before Sophia was born. When Sofia was born I was so set on breastfeeding her I started to pay less attention to Dylan. It was hard finding the balance of how to take care of a baby who had autism, a newborn and my older daughter Jasmine who had recently been diagnosed with unspecified psychosis. It was kind of like my world went from being normal or atypical to drastically different in a matter of months. I was having a hard time adjusting.

Dylan didn't really have a gradual decline in eating, it was kind of like one day he refused it and then the next and then the next until eventually I was doing anything I could to get some sort of nutrition in him. I started giving him baby cereal and whole milk mixed with baby food vegetables in his bottle cutting a hole so that it would come out easier and letting him drink that. But sometimes he wouldn't even drink it. My son went from looking healthy to gravely sick in a matter of weeks. By Christmas Dylan had lost 3 pounds, now think about that a 14 month old losing 3 pounds. Now to you or I it might not seem like that much because we're adults but when a baby loses 3 pounds its significant. He was Skin and bones literally. Sunken eyes, I could see his entire spine!  I was scared.

I asked Dylan's early on occupational therapist for help. She told me she could try to reteach him to eat but it would take time. I didn't feel like we had any time, if  Dylan was going to lose more weight he would be really sick. She also recommended that I talk to Dylan's doctor. So I made an appointment and we got in really quickly. Now the doctor said even after me telling him my son does not eat anything that Dylan needed to see a nutritionist before he would provide him any prescription for a complete nutrition drink. When I schedule that appointment it took over a month to get in to see a nutritionist, so I started buying him pediasures without his doctor saying it was okay. I understand why Dylan's doctor sent us to see a nutritionist but another month of no eating I'm pretty sure my son would have been hospitalized.

We finally did get in to see the nutritionist and she sent back the information to the doctor who then prescribed Dylan his nutrition drinks. After only a week of drinking them Dylan was filling right out again. It took about a month to get him back to normal, but he was much more healthy and happy. he used to cry all the time. I knew what was wrong, he was hungry but how could I help him when he was refusing to eat even from a bottle.

When Dylan quit eating it was one of the most difficult times in my life.

Although Dylan is a non eater still I am happy to say he is still healthy and all thanks to him drinking the nutritional drinks, hes been drinking them since he was about 15 months old and he is know a little over 3 years. While I still have high hopes that Dylan will start eating again someday I know he will be just fine even if he decided he didn't want to.

Thanks for stopping but and letting me share my experiences with you, My hopes are to let other parents know they are not alone because a lot of time I felt I was. No one should feel like that.


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