Sunday, July 29, 2012

You Cracked Her Code

Our goal was to break this stallion, but we didn't know did!

Not too long ago, I posted about our feeding problems and asked for your help. I wanted to thank you for your suggestions! I implemented a few right away and they worked!!

My friend Jessica's husband sustained a brain injury and said - 
"Another thought is that when Jimmy had his brain injury he lost his sense of smell, with that his sense of taste has diminished A LOT. So he doesn't enjoy food as much and depends quite a bit on texture. But I do try to spice up his food as much as possible, I over flavor his stuff compared to ours and sometimes he will get flavors. He has described it like having a cold when everything tastes bland and you could care less about eating. If you think this could be the case you might want to see if she responds to more pugnent flavors, for instance squeezing lemon (a good amount) on pastas or rice."

This made perfect sense on so many levels. I thought this would make all the difference in the world, as before the accident Aviana always loved really spicy, flavorful food. After all, this was a little girl who used to beg for whole cloves of garlic from me, and then would chew them up and eat them. She would also down all the ginger when we went to sushi. While she was eating her Cajun Shrimp, she would look at me all wide eyed, with a huge smile on her beautiful, little face and say, "P-I-C-Y Mommy!!!" She wasn't able to quite say her s' at that time. She was unbelievably cute : ) I should have known...

Since the accident, we have been seasoning her food with natural spices like cilantro, basil, dill, arugula, etc, but for our little Guatemaly these aren't quite cutting it anymore!

Right after reading Jessica's comment, we started adding hot sauce, pepper, garlic, lemon, capers, dill, ginger lemongrass sauce, sweet chili sauce, sometimes a little ketchup, a little tarter sauce, and anything else along these lines. 

Wouldn't you know it - the Meeki Mooko's mouth started to open! Hallelujah!

I wanted to grab Jessica and kiss her!!

We not only added that, but Avi has always loved music. I play music She loves when I sing to her, so this next comment made perfect sense for feeding as well -

The Garland Family said, "I was a behavioral therapy feeding therapist for 7 years. If you can find something she likes (music, videos, a special toy), then every time she takes a bite you give her the reinforcer for a few seconds. That continues for the entire meal. Eventually, she would have to take more bites to get the reinforcer. The key is finding a good reinforcer and only using it for meals. Good luck!!"

After she would open wide, and take a good bite, I would make a really big deal and then sing part of whatever song was playing at the time. Aviana's sweet little eyes would get bigger and become focused straight on me. I can tell she loves when I do it. I think it makes her want to try harder.

Because of these two changes, feedings have become so much more enjoyable!! We still have some challenges here and there, but nothing like before. 

Because of the differences in her food, her seizures are much more exaggerated and sometimes last longer. But, what are we to do, it's a trade off. We need for her to open her mouth, and we all deserve to enjoy the food we eat, right? Right. So we will continue with it, as seizures have never really bothered us. To us...they just go with the brain injury territory. They don't hurt her, or cause her any harm, so we will take the increase in them any day of the week if it means better, more enjoyable feedings.

Feeding has always been our biggest struggle. When I wrote that previous post, I was literally at the end of my rope. I wanted to thank you so much for your help. You truly have eased much of our burden. 

Kaiser had promised us the world with help, and after Aviana's failed liver biopsy, they basically lost our phone number. I started to go after them, like I always do, but for me...there were too many bad memories of all that had just happened for it to be worth it at the time. For my heart's sanity, I decided instead to turn to you for help. I thank you for being there for us.


  1. I'm soooooo, SOOOOOOO glad you found something that helps with feeding!!! I'm so happy for you!

  2. Hey, Hey, that's great news! Who knew we could learn so much from others via blogs? It's crazy cool.

  3. Wow. This is so exciting. I haven't been a feeding therapist for over 10 years (I am a special education teacher now). Anyway, I am so glad it worked. Keep in mind you may need to add new reinforcers because she may get bored (we would actually have a TV with a sing-a-long video next to the table) and after the child took a bite, we would turn on the video for a 20 seconds. It might take longer to eat a meal, but hopefully it will go well. I found the other suggestion about adding more spice to be very interesting. I love reading your blog and wished you lived closer so I could meet Avi!

  4. Well, HALLEULJAH!!!


  5. Soooooo glad we could help! Eat Avi, eat!

    Love you!

  6. That's awesome that you cracked her code! Yum yum!