Sensory processing disorder sometimes seems to be controlling our lives. It really is something that has an impact on so many daily functions, and unless you’re living with or loving someone with this struggle, it’s very difficult to understand.
In my house, all three of our kids face these daily struggles. Their brains are hardwired differently and they do not perceive sensory input correctly. This leads to frustration, being overwhelmed, anxiety, meltdowns and yes, even physical pain.
Truth be told, we gave up on a balanced diet a long time ago and now focus on calories.
While sensory processing disorder (SPD) impacts many areas, but the most challenging for me as a parent, revolves around eating food. The most profoundly impacted are Elliott and Emmett, so I’m focusing here for now.
Poor Emmett and Elliott struggle a great deal with food. They are both very sensitive to taste, smell, color, presentation, packaging and texture. The most important lesson SPD has taught us is that food can never touch other food. Each food item needs its own plate or bowl and of course, utensils. There is almost no way around this. They will not eat anything that violates these unwritten rules or offends their senses.
As a result, my kids don’t eat the school lunch and I don’t think they ever have.
That means we have to pack lunches every single day. That’s not a problem in and of itself. The problem creeps in when we can’t find a single food item that can be placed into a lunch box and eaten at school.
We’ve gone through an unbelievable amount of trial and error, only to become experts at erroring.
It’s possible to find something that works but it only works for a short while. If something ever goes wrong, with a food item, they will likely never try it again.
Here’s an incomplete list of things we’ve tried. These are just the ones that worked but don’t any longer:
- Cold Little Caesars Pizza. Only Little Caesars Pizza and it must have been put into the fridge after it cooled the night before. When it’s put away warm, it changes the taste and texture for them.
- Beef Jerky (this Emmett and only Emmett)
- Dry Ramon Noodles
- Pepperoni Sandwiches
- Pepperoni sticks (only beef and not turkey)
- Nutella sandwich
- Cooked hamburger patties
- Dry cereal
- Easy Mac (the school had to nuke it for them but won’t any longer)
There are too many others to remember and all have failed. We currently have nothing that Emmett will eat but are trying something new in the morning. It’s incredibly frustrating for us as parents because we know how important a balanced diet is. Truth be told, we gave up on a balanced diet a long time ago and now focus on calories.
The most important lesson SPD has taught us is that food can never touch other food. Each food item needs its own plate or bowl and of course, utensils.
This is a problem every meal of every single day and it’s extremely expensive because much of what they try to eat, ends up being wasted.
Tonight I had to spend another hundred dollars at the grocery store after just spending two hundred last Thursday. I’m trying to find things that will at least be tolerable for them but it’s not black and white. An enormously disproportionate amount of my income goes to groceries and many times it’s all in vain because what worked last week no longer does.
These guys aren’t picky eaters. They want to eat many of these things but what would be perfectly fine for most people, would be like asking them to eat out of the litter box.
My kids can taste the difference in the same brand of chicken nuggets. I swear to God they can taste the difference between different batches. They won’t do chicken nuggets very often anymore but there would be times where a brand new bag would taste funny but a second brand new bag would be okay.
As a parent, I feel horrible because their diets aren’t balanced. At the same time, I’m struggling to ensure they take in enough calories each day to keep growing. I know we are doing the very best we can and I have to be okay with that. It’s extremely important to understand that picky eaters will eat when they are hungry enough, kids with sensory processing disorder will starve before eating something that’s sensory offensive.
I absolutely feel like sensory processing disorder is controlling our lives sometimes.
If this sounds all too familiar to you, take heart because you aren’t alone. ☺