Jax is one of “our kids.” He was born prematurely, fourteen weeks early, due to his mother having severe pre-eclampsia. He was delivered by C-section weighing 1lb 9oz and was intubated due to respiratory distress. Jax was diagnosed with severe growth retardation (IUGR) and had an extended stay in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.
Jax is now chronologically 1 year 8 months old. He is no longer dependent on supplemental oxygen. He is followed by a gastrointestinal physician due to significant feeding issues; he is hypersensitive to having foods in his mouth, with the exception of his bottle of formula. When drinking from his bottle, Jax had swallowing difficulties and had to be positioned on his side. Jax would refuse to take his bottle when outside his home environment, keeping himself and his mother mostly homebound. He would always gag and retch with tiny tastes of solid foods. Due to this, Jax showed very little to no interest with eating and struggled with obtaining proper nutrition and weight gain. Therefore, his Elks Therapist has been working on determining the source of his difficulties and developing very specific therapies to make the entire process of eating easier, nutritional, and more enjoyable for both Jax and his mother.
Jax has severe oral sensory aversion. In this case, his therapist has worked with him and his mother to broaden the amount and types of food Jax will tolerate touching, smelling, tasting, and eventually swallowing by reducing his sensitivities to foods and their textures. He also lacks the skills needed to eat, and his therapist has worked to teach him how to control and coordinate chewing, sipping, and swallowing while eating.
His mother, aunt, and cousin have been instrumental in Jax’s progress with feeding and with improving his overall eating experiences. They follow through with therapy recommendations, strategies and tactics for addressing negative mealtime behaviors. His family continues to encourage him to eat the new foods introduced during therapy at home, and they communicate what he eats during the week, how he acts at mealtime, and how he reacts to foods. Working as a team, both his therapist and family decide which foods to introduce and target during therapy, giving Jax just the right amount of therapy to make progress without feeling overwhelmed.
Jax’s mother is grateful for the help she is getting—in their own home—for her son through the Elks Therapy Program. Many thanks to all the Elks members and friends for supporting the WA Elks Therapy Program for Children. Thank you!