Our daughter, Elloree, suffered through 2 years of a feeding nightmare, including inability to coordinate a suck-swallow pattern, continuous vomiting, food sensitivities, reflux, bottle aversion, inability to transition to age-appropriate foods, and then a complete food stonewall. To make matters worse, doctors were of little help as they didn’t believe our struggles of what Elloree was going through, despite the fact that she dropped from the 50th to the 3rd percentile and stayed there for 2 years. My husband, Josh, and I were at our limit dealing with all of the screaming, the mealtime struggles, not being able to eat anywhere in public, the choking, and not to mention to the midnight carpet cleaning.
When we saw Kristina for the first time, she confirmed that Elloree had significant oral motor sensitivities and sensory processing disorder. We also sought help with a new gastroenterologist who still treats her for GERD and likely Eosinophilic Esophagitis managed through diet. Although it felt like a punch to the gut, we knew we had an answer and knew what to do to finally help our child. Krisitina got right to work with our girl. Through a lot of fun, child-centered age-appropriate oral motor therapy, Elloree began to turn the corner! She stopped vomiting once she stopped eating milk, eggs, and nuts. She began to sleep through the night! Josh and I felt so supported, too, and soaked up every bit of information Kristina could toss our way (which was a ton). Elloree and Kristina worked so hard for 18 months together: Elloree learned to chew properly, practiced moving food to the side of her tongue, added new foods to her diet, became more willing to try new foods in new ways, and became more comfortable at mealtime. The most crucial piece of the therapy for ALL of us was that she taught Josh and I the methodology for adding new foods at home.
Now at age 7, Elloree’s relationship with food isn’t perfect. However, without Kristina in our lives, I can’t even imagine where we’d be today. I feel better knowing that Kristina helped my daughter feel comfortable about eating, making her less likely to carry her issues with food into adolescence. It’s hard to imagine the teenage years when someone is working with your baby, but they come so quickly. Thank you, Kristina, for everything you have done for our family! We adore you.
When Kristina first started working with us, our 20 mth old Nathan hated meal time, and therefore so did we. He basically only ate carbs (crackers, bread, etc.) and raisins. He didn’t like fruit. He didn’t like vegetables. He had sensory sensitivities that kept him stressed out about any food that was wet or any color other than tan. He also choked easily.
We felt like failures as parents, and Kristina walked in with understanding, compassion, and levity. She showed us how to gradually offer Nathan new options (breaking down all the steps so we would offer little, approachable steps to our son), while keeping his interaction with food fun and light. She helped us make meals fun and inviting. She discovered things about Nathan we never would have…. that he loved strong tastes like garlic and hot spice. She taught us to involve Nathan in the process of meal prep (picking out foods at the grocery food, chopping food, stirring, tasting along the way, setting the table, etc.). She helped us realize that involving him in our gardening would not only be fun for him, but would help him feel more comfortable with food in general. She also picked up on his motor delays and began working on building up the muscles and awareness inside his mouth… even noticing he needed to learn how to chew.
I can’t imagine where we would be today without Kristina. Nathan now loves to eat. If salad is on his plate, it’s the first food he eats. He is willing to sample new foods without becoming undone. There are some foods Nathan does not (and maybe never will) prefer. But his menu options have skyrocketed with options. We are more understanding and laid back if he’s having a hard day and not up to eating certain foods that are more challenging for him. We feel so proud of him when he adopts a new food in his diet.
We are so grateful for all of Kristina’s knowledge, expertise, and willingness to take on a hard area… picky eating children! I long for this field to grow and expand, and for others who care for children (parents, grandparents, doctors, speech therapists, etc.) to grow in vision for helping these children in affective ways.
When our son Ty was born, he weighed 5 lbs 10 oz and quickly lost 8 oz before leaving the hospital. He wasn’t technically a preemie but that’s the only size clothing that would fit him. He measured 25% compared to his peers for his weight. We immediately started having feeding issues. On multiple visits with the Lactation Consultant, we finally found a strategy that would work but even then it was difficult for our son to latch on and nurse “properly”. We were worried that we would have to stop nursing and begin bottle feeding due to his weight loss. It took about a week to finally get him comfortable with breast feeding but even then he continued to use his tongue awkwardly. We proceeded through his first year and he tried all pureed baby foods presented to him, which we felt like we had overcome a huge obstacle. However, once we began introducing textures and cows milk, he began to revert into a very small group of chosen foods he would eat. He also started mouth clinching so we couldn’t even force feed him if we wanted to. And then he had frequent diarrhea. Again we were worried that he would lose weight.
We began discussing our feeding issues with Kristina when our son turned two. At this point, we were really worried about our sons nutrition and weight. Dinner time was very stressful in our house as we could not get him to eat. We had resorted to yelling and screaming and at some points crying and that was just me and my husband. It was difficult for us to understand how a child could love a certain food one day and hate it the next. And, with so few food choices that he would eat, we were very limited in what we could get inside his tummy.
Part of our problem was due to power struggle issues which Kristina helped us tremendously with by giving our son at least two options to choose from at dinner time, suggesting that we discuss food with him and allow him to help prepare a meal. We also tackled the diarrhea issue by trying an elimination diet. Kristina thought the culprit might be milk protein meaning that cows milk might be too hard on his stomach at this age. So we eliminated milk and replace it with rice milk and his diarrhea cleared up. However, the major issue was textures. I felt like this was the reason for the awkward tongue usage. Kristina worked with Ty to teach him how to use his tongue to move the food around in his mouth and use his larger teeth to chew up bigger pieces of food. But also, Kristina helped us understand that for Ty his foods needed to look familiar or he wouldn’t even try them. So, we began making almost all him food look like chicken nuggets, which allowed him to try broccoli and cheese nuggets, macaroni and cheese nuggets, you get the drift. Additionally, Kristina utilized some oral motorl therapy to help Ty try new foods. Ty’s taste buds needed some stimulation before trying new foods. So, before mealtime we allowed Ty to chew on a texturized teether similar to a toothbrush. With no fear of having to swallow, this encouraged Ty put the teether in his mouth and get his tongue ready for different textures.
Our son is almost six years old now and still struggles with new foods but he is definitely trying more foods than I ever thought he would. And, I’m happy to say that even though we occasionally struggle with bad food choices, he surprises me a lot with good food choices such as requesting apples, strawberries, celery and pistachios. He grew out of the sensitivity to milk protein but now prefers almond milk over cows milk anyway (more protein; win for mom!!). We still are a long way from having a family meal; but, we are working on that. Right now I am happy to allow him to feel in control and get my sanity back at dinner time.
Without Kristina’s help, we would have been lost. She not only helped Ty experience a new world of food but also helped my husband and I deal with our overbearing issues and get past the “ideal” meal. Learning different techniques from her has also spurred me into learning more about how foods react with our bodies which in turn helps me teach Ty about food and encourage him to make good choices. Kristina’s patience and attitude makes the whole process much easier to work on. We absolutely loved working with her and would still be working with her if she were in town. We miss you much!!!