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Specialist support for Darcy’s dietary needs

Published 14th May, 2018

Eating and mealtimes were always a battle for 8-year-old Darcy, and the ongoing issues related to eating led his mother to seek help from the MEAHLS team at Therapy Focus.

Darcy has Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) and began receiving services from Therapy Focus when he was 2-years-old. When Darcy began to show an aversion  to foods and had trouble drinking water later in life, the family was referred to Therapy Focus’ specialist MEAHLS Team for support.

Darcy was given a variety of tools including bubbles, a flute and a chewing toy to help him strengthen his jaw and learn the correct way to chew his food.

Darcy’s mother, Sharee, said that it was eye-opening to realise that since Darcy’s jaw wasn’t as strong as it should be, some foods could be frightening to him.

Using the different strategies provided by the MEAHLS Team, Sharee has exposed Darcy to different foods on the table where he can make ‘safe’ choices and she allows him to touch the food and play.

“Darcy can play with his food – I’m probably the only Mum who says that’s okay,” she said jokingly.

“It’s about getting him used to the food and taking the pressure away from him having to actually eat it.”

MEAHLS Team therapist Danielle Cottam said that collaboration with Therapy Focus’ specialist continence team also helped address Darcy’s issues with fluid intake and constipation. 

“Mealtimes include the whole body system so Darcy’s constipation was a key factor affecting his willingness to try new foods. Likewise, his difficulties with chewing linked directly to his difficulties with constipation,” she said.

“On the advice of the PEBBLES continence team, we implemented a cup that Darcy would be able to use to pace himself when drinking, as well as communication strategies to help increase his fluid intake at home and school. Darcy is now drinking water from a range of vessels and this has helped keep him regular.”

Sharee said the support of the two specialist teams have been invaluable to her son’s fluid intake and continence training.

“Like many ASD children, Darcy has had incontinence problems (encopresis). So the assistance of the PEBBLES team and giving us strategies for Darcy to drink water have been fantastic,” she said.

If you would like to access Therapy Focus’ specialist mealtime management services or continence support services, please contact us on 1300 135 373.

Darcy doing his exercises with his flute
Pictured: Darcy doing his exercises with his flute

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