Hope on the “Horizon”

I asked myself repeatedly if going to Horizons was God’s route for us.  I had wanted to visit the Autism Transformation Center when we were in town at Thanksgiving last year, but then our youngest child had another bout of pneumonia and our day was spent in urgent care.  I was frustrated.  I so very much wanted Horizons to be the source of help for us.  I needed to know that something was.

The free workshop about picky eaters was on a school night in March.  We knew that we could make it in time if we left right after school let out.  We knew that it would be a late night coming back, but my sister had so graciously agreed to have the kids stay at her house so that we could really soak in the information.  Then a wrench got thrown in our plans.  My husband woke up very sick.

Knowing how important going to that workshop was to me, he tried to go about his day.  He got ready for school and went over, only to call me shortly after the school day began.  He was wiped out and didn’t even have the strength to continue numbly sitting in his desk chair while the students looked on in a bit of confusion.  A sub was called in (it might have been me–I don’t really remember too much after that point because I was really panicking) and he went home to rest, feeling like he’d wake up doing much better.

I kept the kids out of the house so that he could rest deeply.   By the time we got home and he finally woke up, the day had really gone by, and he realized that he didn’t feel any better.  Now it was going to be tricky getting him into the dr. with one vehicle and needing to pick up our daughter from school.  I dropped him off at urgent care, picked up our daughter, and drove back to wait for him.  He had a nasty case of strep.

They had faxed his prescription into a nearby Walgreens, but if we waited 45 minutes for it to be filled, we would have missed the workshop.  He certainly didn’t feel up to much of anything, but I stubbornly refused to miss that workshop.  I believed that we were supposed to go and hear that information.  We decided to spend time on the cell phone during our trip finding a way to transfer the prescription to a different pharmacy along the way, which proved to be quite a tricky task.

I stopped at a gas station to fuel up and got on the cell phone to call our principal.  Being that Kevin wouldn’t have been on his medicine for 24 hours, he couldn’t come in to school tomorrow.  I wanted the principal to know that a subsitute teacher would be needed and that we were trying to contact one who was familiarized with Kevin’s schedule and students.  We had been leaving messages.  We didn’t have more than a couple minutes to spare.  We HAD to get on the road!

At that moment, she (meaning the substitute teacher) happened to pull into the gas station with her family.  Praise God for his awesome power and grace!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  That’s the only explanation for that–not coincidence or luck, but awe-inspiring, knock-me-to-my-knees grace.

I ran to her car, explained that Kevin was sick and that we hoped she could teach.  She could.  We left town–me driving, Kevin sleeping.  At least we didn’t have to rush back and could just spend the night.

It was tight, but we made it to Horizons before the workshop began.  Kevin was absolutely sapped of strength, but he sat through it with me.  I’m grateful.

As we sat there listening, it quickly  became apparent to us that our son wasn’t simply just a picky eater.  He was something far more complicated called a “problem feeder”.  The ideas presented for picky eaters were still useful for problem feeders, we were told, but that often there were deeper-seated issues that needed addressing.

I remember shaking as I raised my hand to say how averse my son was to the smell and sight of so many foods, and described how out-of-control he’d get.  I said that he loved to read and write and I wondered if maybe we could keep a food journal with him, logging about the foods I served and what he thought about it.  I hoped that he’d get interested in looking back through the entries and that it might help him to see his time at the table more positively.  They thought that it was worth a try, and suggested that we take him grocery shopping and involve him more just discussing foods–rudimentary things, really.  It became clear to me that we weren’t looking at any quick fixes.  I was approached by the therapists afterward and we whispered more about things.  They were trying not to shock me or make me feel coerced into committing to any of their programs, but I definitely was hearing that they felt like our son had a challenging case and that they were glad to help us however we’d let them.

Figuring that we’d end up enrolling in their feeding therapy program, I was determined to try implementing their suggestions for picky eaters, first.  I set up his food journal and started putting two plates at his spot–one for eating off of, and one called a “learning plate”.  It was pretty upsetting to him to have many foods near him, even though he wasn’t expected to try anything off of the learning plate.  He’d still get very upset and drastically alter the tone of our meals.  I didn’t feel that we were making progress, and I didn’t want to waste time.  We did a phone consultation with the feeding therapist, and she determined that it would be beneficial to meet with us for her to observe and assess our son in person.  I was relieved.  I was ecstatic.  I was scared to think of how much it might cost…but at that point, I just knew that the money spent would be worth it if he got over his fear of food.

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