Thursday, January 10, 2008

Hard to Swallow

In two weeks a group of people from the county are coming to perform an early intervention assessment of Sam's speech. We've been having a little trouble coaxing more than a few words from him, and he's far from stringing them together, which is something he should be doing by two. I know he's not quite two yet, but our doctor though it would be better to get the process started. If he shows more than a 25% delay, then we will start therapy.

Now, honestly, I'm not concerned much with his speech. More and more comes every day. SOB was a late talker as well. He chatters incessantly, it's just that most of what he says doesn't qualify as English. But I can see that it's starting to frustrate him. His comprehension is fine, though, and he can sign like a mother effer. He signs more words than he speaks.

The thing that does concern me a little bit is the trouble he's having with swallowing. I guess I should say trouble, because it might just be defiance and not a physical problem. What happens is that Sam will put just about anything in his mouth and chew it up, but then he doesn't swallow it. He will, however, continue to shovel food into his mouth. The end result usually ends up being a huge mess. Ultimately he either gags on the contents of his mouth and spits it out or he just spits it out for fun. A few times he's actually gagged and then thrown up the meager amount of food he actually did swallow.

Meal time has become a huge battle royale, and I've become the worst cliche ever. I beg and plead with him, offer bribes, this morning I actually cried. A combination of being sick, sleep deprived and frustrated, I guess. The poor, sweet boy kept signing 'sorry' over and over.

So I ask you, dear internets, what is a mom to do? He's going to the doctor tomorrow, so I'll be sure to bring it up there, but I would love some advice from those of you out in the trenches. Do I let him go hungry when he won't eat in hopes that later he'll be ravenous enough to swallow down whatever I give him? Because that's about where I am right now. Help!

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Lora said...

I think you're right in not worrying too much about his vocabulary. The pros will either dismiss it or take care of it.

As far as swallowing, I'm sure it is nothing that can't be fixed physically. Nutritionally, however, I can feel your pain.

Is Sammy good with beverages? Jake goes thru a refusal to swallow thing every now and then, and I think it is a control tactic. He is getting better with "washing it down" but to make sure he gets his vitamins, I add Carnation Instant Breakfast to his milk and sometimes I struggle to give him liquid vitamins.

Also, I make sure he gets a bowl of Rice Cereal (or whatever we have at the time) mixed with yogurt or fruit or something. The Gerber stuff is extra fortified so I go to bed knowing that what little stuff makes it down Jake's throat has extra nutrition in it.

Does this help? Probably not. I'm such a rambler.

Amy Jo said...

We do give him baby oatmeal mixed with fruit and yogurt as a snack most days. Usually that was the one thing he would eat happily, but even that has become a struggle lately. He does take vitamin drops, and even though they smell like ass he seems to love them. He's also picky about drinking.

The more I think about it, the more I think it's a control thing. When he was feverish, we kept trying to get him to drink some water, and he would flat out refuse. But every now and then I'd catch him gulping it down.

I guess this is just one of the trials of parenthood.

Janet said...

hey-i feel you- jack did the same thing...i didn't know someone could hold onto one piece of meat for so long...i like the drink idea- but jack wouldn't do that...i tried bribery, and it became a may sounf horrible, but- we used time out- only because we knew it had become a game- and because 2 minutes not being at the table with us was punishment enough- i know some people hate time out- but it worked for jack...except that last night whilein the tub, he spit out what was left of the orange he had an hour and a half prior-nice
i hope all works out!

Janet said...

p.s.- we don't use the time out when he's sick...that would just be horrible...for some reason he loves herr's pretzels and orange gatorade (aka gator-ater)...go figure...not the most nutritional-but liquid none the less

Tracey said...

I have to say that with a LOT of experience with this stuff - my mom and best friend are speech pathologists, my daughter would NOT take a bottle, had her evaluated, etc., I would have to say that it does sound to me as a physiological concern that you should definitely tell both your pediatrician and the people coming from the county. Speech and language and swallowing are all interrelated and it sounds as if it is out of his control. The same muscles that control sound production and word formation control swallowing. If they do determine that this is something to be strengthened, they will give you excercises to do. Good luck!

susan said...

To weigh in on the nutrition part: don't underestimate the power of letting him "make" his own chocolate milk (highly diluted, of course) -- there are days when that is the only way I manage to get any dairy into the list of foods consumed. LG takes his "shakin' da chockie bop" duties very seriously (why he still calls milk "bop", I don't know) and works up quite the thirst by the time he's done. If I come up with any other grand suggestions, you know I'll weigh back in.

As for the speech, all I know is that my pediatrician got me all worked up at the 18 month visit because she thought he might be delayed. I worked and worked and worked with him with absolutely NO results. Then all the sudden one morning he woke up and started talking back. Not full sentences (we've only had full sentences for two or three weeks now)(and by full I mean "Ernin' watchin' George" or "Ernin' walkin' steps"), but his vocabulary went from 30+ words to well over 100 seemingly overnight. I don't think it's insignificant that his timing coincided with the move and the fact that I was no longer focused solely on him.

Bottom line: I second Lora -- stress not until the pros tell you there is definitely something to stress about. And then get a second and a third opinion before you let it keep you up nights. Sammy is bright; brilliant, even. He will overcome any barriers he might encounter and he's got the most amazing parents to give him the extra boost he might need. He'll be fine. You'll be fine. Although I'm starting to think that you need to get yourself and your kiddos on a plane and come out and let me give you some serious time off...

Fidget said...

Please do speak with your doctor. My daughter has trouble moving certain textures from the front of her mouth to swallowing. Things like mashed potatoes always end in gagging and quite grossly- barfing.

It may be a simple exertion of control as others have pointed out, but it may be tied to the speech issue (my daughter's is), or it could be an issue all it's own dealing with sensory.

make sure to have the folks evaluating his speech make a note of the behaviors too.

Amy Jo said...

Thanks for all the advice ladies. The doctor said it might be related, so we'll talk with the speech therapist on friday! I'll keep you all posted!

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