Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Learning Plate

Morgan's SPD sometimes gets in the way of our meal times. While she doesn't have full blown sensory adversion to food, she does have strong preferences. Add to that the fact that she has control issues and a strong will meal time can sometimes be less then pleasant. Her therapist gave us the following meal time plan and I'm very excited to put it into play. The following is a summary of said plan.

1. Prepare your child for the dinner meals changes before you implement them. Make sure to emphasize that it's about the WHOLE family learning, not just them.

2. Each meal should have one protein, one starch and one fruit/vegetable. At least one of these foods must be a preferred food.

3. Serve the meal family style with each person passing each food and taking a small amount to put on their plate. A rule of thumb is that a serving size = 1 tablespoon per year of age. If your child balks or is having a negative reaction, you can tell them that if it's too hard to put X tablespoons on their plate, then they can put just one tablespoon on their plate. If this is still too hard, then you can present the "learning plate".

4. The learning plate is a plate in the middle of the table where everyone can put a food that they don't want to have on their plate. For example, if a parent feels like they are tired of eating a chicken nugget, it can go on the learning plate.

5. At some point during the meal, there needs to be a conversation about the learning plate. Start with just talking about the food (how many there are, the color, the size, ect). Then move to the next step of interacting with it (uses a utensil to touch it or stir it). Next smell the food. If they tolerate that, then move on to touching the food with any part of the body. The last step is to taste the food whether it's just a lick, a bite that is spit out or a full chew and swallow.

6. If your child protests at any step, back off. The goal is to get them to experience different foods without forcing or pressuring. It will take time.

Last night we gave Morgan the heads up that there are going to be fun new changes to how we are going to all do dinner. Tonight, we will go over the specific details with her and the next night we will start to implement it.

I'm excited to start this new program and see how it helps our meal times become better times!


Staci said...

It sounds like a great plan! My son has very strong attitudes towards food, so I might adapt some of this to try with him. Meals can be so stressful!

Can't wait to hear how it goes for you!

jamielblev said...

I'm curious to know how this went.