Food therapy for kids is a thing now. If you have a fussy eater, if your child struggles to chew certain foods or favours some over the others, food therapy is the ticket. It’s a relatively new concept, sort of like an eating intervention with fun and games and lots of learning.
My son Giovanni, 8, is on the autism spectrum and is incredibly picky about what he eats and how he eats it. He is slightly overweight and I am concerned that his health is going to suffer if he doesn’t start eating fruits, vegetables and different kinds of proteins aside from chicken schnitzel and sausages.
He started Occupational Therapy (OT) earlier this year and there was an immediate improvement in his school work and writing. It was the best money I’ve ever spent, worth every single cent.
I blame the success of OT on my high expectations for the food therapy program which I call Food OT. I imagined Giovanni being coaxed into trying apples and carrots and different types of bread. I pictured us shopping together and cooking together and him at least trying different foods before he decided he didn’t want to eat them.
That’s not what has happened.
Instead my son seems to be flunking food therapy. He’s the worst kid in the class. Firstly he looks very different to the other kids in his food therapy group. He’s a big boy but all the other children are small and thin. He refuses to try any food he hasn’t eaten before where as all the other children at least take a bite before the decide they don’t actually like it. He gets up during the session and runs in circles around the table where as all the other kids sit nicely in their seats, concentrating on the session and the foods being placed before them.
The cost of the food therapy program which runs for 12 weeks is $1800 however I'll only end up paying $1360 thanks to a bit of help from private health insurance.
I would be happy to spend the money if the program actually worked. I'd pay double for Giovanni to start eating fruits, vegetables and different meals.
The first week was great actually but that's the last progress he has made. He tried a new food (although he now refuses to eat it at home) and that is Rice Bubbles. Also in week one he licked an apple which was excellent progress. I imagined him licking it again in week two and by week three maybe he'd take a small bite and realise how sweet it tasted.
I fantasised about being able to pack him apples instead of just bananas in his school snacks. My endless quest for Giovanni-worthy bananas (they must be small but not Lady Fingers, perfectly ripe but not too ripe) is doing my head in.
When he was a toddler he used to eat everything. I remember sharing a plate of grilled sardines with him, of how he'd eat a peeled apple every night before bed. As he got older and his sensory issues and personality quirks kicked in, foods started dropping off the list.