Harry learns how to enjoy mealtimes

By Indi Fillery

Brand Engagement Officer

2-year-old Harry Padmanabhan has Global Developmental Delay and is learning how mealtimes can be fun with the help of Therapy Focus’ specialist MEAHLS Team.

Sitting in the family dining room, Harry reaches for the boxes on the table in front of him and opens one with great delight in his eyes. Squealing with happiness, Harry cuddles the moose puppet that was in the box.

The box game was provided by Therapy Focus MEAHLS therapist Danielle Cottam and helps make dinner time fun. Harry’s mother Patricia said Harry chooses which box to do at mealtimes, with each box containing an activity associated with food.

Patricia said that Harry is only able to eat soft and dissolvable foods because he cannot chew. His food slides down his throat too quickly and he needed help.

“Harry has always had eating problems and I would talk to people saying that things didn’t feel right and this wasn’t just a toddler problem, but I never felt heard,” Patricia said.

“The early intervention we received from Therapy Focus has been really helpful and getting the right support for Harry’s mealtime needs is fantastic. We felt listened to for the first time,” she said.

Therapy Focus’ MEAHLS Team work with individuals, families, other therapists and healthcare professionals to increase safety, comfort and independence during mealtimes. The Team provided Patricia with a chewing toy and a whistle to assist Harry in strengthening his jaw and are also trialling thickening liquids to help Harry’s body recognise the difference between solids and liquids, and to support nutrient absorption.

A boy strengthening his jaw with a chewy tube. He is being helped by his mother.

Pictured: Harry (L) and his mother Patricia (R)

Patricia said that Harry has made great progress thanks to the collaborative efforts of his therapy team and specialists.

“He’s made great progress with his milestones and his improvements have gotten faster and closer together,” she said.

“Our therapists have been amazing in terms of the emotional support at the sessions. Offloading and feeling listened to meant I could talk and really feel supported.”

To learn more about Therapy Focus’ MEAHLS Team email [email protected] or call 1300 135 373.

Finding mealtimes challenging?

We provide specialist support for people with disability who have difficulty eating or drinking, or who need help during mealtimes.