Archive for November, 2010

Sign? But my child’s not deaf!

Sign language is getting a lot of attention with new parents these days, and rightly so.  It is a marvelous first language for little ones, and for older ones who are struggling with the production of sounds.  Producing signs with our hands is much much simpler than the very fine and highly coordinated muscle movements required for speech production.  Hence, children who have not yet developed the motor capacity to produce speech sounds can produce language with their hands.

Sign language empowers children.  It gives them some control over their world.  They can now ask for things and reject things without becoming frustrated.  Providing a means of communication for your child before they are able to speak actually enhances their language development, providing an ever bigger foundation for verbal communication once it develops.  It is amazing to watch, too, how the signs seem to fade away as speech develops.  Because we live in a verbal world, our children who sign find it faster and more efficient to use speech when they are able, so once verbal words are possible, they stop using their signs.

Some signs are difficult for little hands to produce.  Don’t hesitate to simplify signs.  Many children make up their own signs.  That is terrific- as long as you understand those individually created signs, let them use those signs.  We want to encourage communication, not get picky over the format of the individual signs.

There are many popular DVD programs available to assist you and your child in learning new signs.  Check out your local library for resources; there is also a wide selection of picture books illustrating common childhood words in sigh language.

Play around with signs- and  Have Fun!

Posted by on November 18th, 2010 No Comments


Picky Eating: When to Worry

My grandson is 19 months old.  He is a mild-mannered, go-with-the-flow kind of kid who has always enthusiastically eaten anything put in front of him; peeled grapes, cottage cheese, crunchy carrots, all forms of meat, you name it- he ate it. The other day his mother called to say that he has suddenly become a picky eater and is not even eating his favorite foods.

As a first time parent, she is of course worried about this sudden behavior change and attitude toward food.  Should she be worried?  No, not yet.  It is true that some children are more “hard wired” to be pickier eaters, and more frightened of new food than others.  However, most toddlers enter into a temporary picky eating phase that peaks at around 18 months and typically resolves if handled properly.  How this stage is handled makes a critical difference between your child going through a temporary phase or entering into a struggle for healthy eating habits.

It is theorized that because toddlers become more mobile and independent creatures, they become picky and sometimes downright fearful of different foods as a survival mechanism to keep them from eating everything in sight and thus poisoning themselves.

Some children, however, do not enter this survival oriented picky eating stage with the same history of a full repertoire of food exposure as Dorian has.  Parents who themselves are anxious or picky about food may not present a wide range of foods to their young child and/or model picky eating behaviors themselves.  This may lead to a toddler that either doesn’t like different foods, doesn’t want to try different foods and/or hasn’t developed the oral motor skills to be able to handle different types of foods resulting in frightening food related experiences consisting of choking sensations. Children with these histories often end up benefiting from feeding therapy.

Children of parents who force food upon them are another set of children that often end up benefiting from feeding therapy.  Healthy children eat enough to satiate their hunger.  The amount that they eat varies from meal to meal or even from week to week.  However, the amount of food consumed across the week is usually the correct amount for the child to continue to grow at a healthy rate.  Anxious parents may force too much food into their child resulting in the child being unable to regulate their eating based upon their own hunger.  Parents would be wise to take on the responsibility of offering their children a wide range of healthy food choices and encouraging their children to do control how much of those foods to consume.

Most children require many exposures of a new food before they will enjoy eating it.  Wise parents continue to introduce new foods and offer even “less preferred” foods.  Never assume that a first, second third or even fifth refusal of a food means that your child doesn’t like the food.  Keep offering it and model pleasurable consumption of those foods.

If your child continues to be overly picky or continues to reduce the range of foods he will eat, or is losing weight, consult with a therapist with specialized training and experience in treating picky eaters.

Contact CLASS, Inc. at to schedule a free consultation.

Posted by on November 10th, 2010 No Comments