Taking a child with autism AND failure to thrive off the bottle?

Chenique - posted on 05/02/2011 ( 14 moms have responded )

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I know someone asked this question already but my situation is a little different from theirs and so needed advice thats tweeked a little...My child with possible autism is 3 yrs old and will be 4 in Nov 2011. He has oral aversion to food, but constantly places non-food items in his mouth and chews on them. He is still on the bottle, will only take it after i cut the tip off to an exact point to where he prefers it and chews the rest of the nipple down to the point where i have to replace them every 3 weeks or so. He has failure to thrive as his diagnosis since he is very much underweight because his metabolism is sped up from a lung defect so he drinks 1.5 calorie kids boost for the majority of his caloric intake and has just begun eating babyfood off a spoon at school about a month ago. My question is how do I take him off the bottle? Everytime i try he just screams and then shuts down and wont take anything at all and since he is already underweight i cant afford to let him starve hisself. In the past there was a time we had to go the the emergency room because he wouldnt eat anything for a day and a half and i FINALLY realized it was because the bottle i was giving him had ridges on it and even though it was a bottle he still felt it was too different. How do I do this? And if its not the right time when is?

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Denise - posted on 05/02/2011

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autistic children need sameness and if it is a comfort to the child continue with the bottle , continue the spoon feeds and let him play with a sippy cup just empty to expose the child to the different feel of it , i would certainly take him to ped gastroenterologist , speech therapist and ot for assisting the child with desensitizing.

User - posted on 05/02/2011

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Hi Chenique,

I would not focus on taking him off the bottle until he has established the ability to take in his nutritional needs.

So, to attempt to get more food into him orally, a fun game for some kids is to "paint with pudding" (or yogurt, jam, pureed foods, baby foods..whatever the case) You give them the food, and paint pictures with it on a tray. Their fingers get goopy, and they might accidentally taste some of their paint...so, then in a very non-threatening manner, different foods and their textures are introduced. You never let the child see you put the food on the tray (that in itself can make them object to the game)...and you NEVER stress if they don't want to do it...you just do it, play withe the dolls doing it...but, don't make a big deal! Hopefully, this will allow for the gentle introduce of foods.

Good luck to you and your son.

Sheila

Jane - posted on 05/02/2011

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I would suspect that now is not the time. He will let you know when the time is by either abandoning the bottle or finally accepting something else.

Have they ever figured out why he is not growing normally? Does he have cystic fibrosis?

Chenique - posted on 05/03/2011

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he was in therapy when he was 2 and was too much for him at that time sensory-wise so took him out, but since he has been doing well in ppcd preschool i had the referral put in and he is back on the waiting list for ST, OT, ABA, and PT. he already has a gastroenterologist he has been seeing since birth.thanks for the advice guys i will try some of this stuff!

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Jessi - posted on 04/15/2018

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My son just turned 5 on the first. We are waiting to get my son into a behavioral specialist because he has a lot of questions that line up with high functioning autism. He stims and has speech delays, food adversions, doesn't respond after multiple times of calling his name. And refuses to drink out of anything besides a nipple on his pediasure and juice pouches. But isn't getting everything he needs unless drinking the pediasure. And his father hates the nipple and says we don't do enough to get him off. Even the doctor has said it's not a big deal but to him it is. I am running out of options and tired of fighting. He's at work I'm the mom at home. I've tried ever cup under the sun. But dad wants to do it his way and not listen to anything I got to say. What do I do?

Connie - posted on 05/04/2011

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My son is eight, he transitioned from a bottle to a sippy cup when he was six. He still uses the sippy cup for his ensure, it is good for his oral muscles. I wouldn't focus on things like taking his bottle away. It isn't productive and if he needs it then leave it. You can wittle down the time that you use it eventually but he is still pretty young. If he was a typical kid - it wouldn't be a big deal either. Focus on his nutrition, get creative with what goes in the bottle if you can (this is how we managed our sons nutrition), make smoothies maybe. It is a sensory need and if it is the only way he will eat then use it to your advantage. If you can get him to drink ensure that is a full meal replacement, our son has two a day - one in the morning and one a night and it has helped maintain his weight and growth. He has been drinking it since he was four and it was recommended by the nutritionist that he sees. Good luck.

Teresa - posted on 05/04/2011

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i have had very similar experience with my son, and if it were up to me he would still be on the bottle at 7. This is where it helps to have an obstinant spouse: I was working late one night and my husband got him to take a sippy cup. I came home to shock and amazement -- they had gone out shopping and he was allowed to pick out a "new kind of bottle that isn't a bottle!" it had lions on it. My husband had let him watch him as he loaded it with his usual drink - chocolate boost. he was so proud to show me his new cup, and his new skill -- drinking from a sippy cup. it would have never worked out if i had tried it.

Jennifer - posted on 05/04/2011

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My daughter didn't give up her bottle untill she was 6. Don't get tied up in knots that the bottle has to go. You know your child. She is 11 now and the tallest in her primary school! (I'm only 5' 2', so not sure how that happened...) No harm done!

Kayla - posted on 05/04/2011

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One of my boys that is 3 was failure to thrive and is still on the bottle for. Formula as well. At first I was told the same thing you were that him having breathing issues makes them burn a lot more callories and that he just had to have them. Then when I got into pediatric gi, she ran tests. We found out that my sons stomach was draining to slow and therfore he was not getting enough out of the food he ate. We started a medication for that and he is now on the growth chart! I would not worry about the bottle as long as he is not going to bed with it. Just keep trying other foods. Sometimes they will take something more solid and not something mushy. Good luck! :)

Thea - posted on 05/03/2011

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Dear Chenique, I totally understand. I spent a day in emergency after changing my son's bottle to water bottle with milk in it. So what I did was to view what was the important aspect of my son's rigidness to change (visual or oral or both?). I used an avent bottle and the Nubi sports sipper cups because they have the same screw-on bottle top width. The nuby sports sippers are made of silicon and are soft and suckable like the avent teats. First I replace one part of the bottle only then waited for ages and then another part and then waited again. You could try hunting for bottle that slots your teat into it so the sucking is the same but the bottle is different. You could try painting your son's bottle so its the same but looks different. Once you get your foot in the door, wait a little and try another change, like a sticker on the bottle, that way he gets used to something different but its the same. I now use multyiple coloured nubi bottles and regularly swap their tops and bottom with different colours (never ever thought this day would come). I hope this makes sense, it took me ages to find the right swaps for my bottles but if you do go via the nubi sport sipper and he chews the teat off then you can buy replacments teats. I buy a 24 pack every couple of months from the USA. It took me 4 weeks to get my son off his Avent babies bottle and drinking from a nuby sports sipper. He will only drink milk but I can put vitamins in it which is a blessing. I am now working on moving him to water. Right now we are giving him 3/4 water and 1/4 milk, as long as it looks white he drinks it.

I hope this addresses some of your issues, remember autism is repetitive and rigid, you have to become super sneaky :-)

I have a visual document on how I swap the bottles that I can email you if you like, just shoot me your email address to thea_roberts@yahoo.com.au

Good luck with your journey, I don't think you should wait until he is ready, autism is rigid and repetitive, it has to be re-programmed for change to happen.

:-)

Karen - posted on 05/03/2011

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To get my son off the bottle at 3 yrs and 10 mos i bought the NUBY soft spout sippy cups they are similiar to a bottle in texture. he switched to the nuby first then about 6 mos later he started accepting all kinds of sippy cup spouts. Every ASD child is different so it may or may not be an option for you. He may need more time before making the transisiton offf the bottle, making sure he gets his nutrition is MOST important, of course!

Diane - posted on 05/02/2011

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I agree with the other mums, keep him on the bottle. My son is 5 and still has a bottle simply because we cant get him to drink milk from anything other than a babys bottle. So it is either the baby's bottle or no milk at all. The only other thing he drinks is water, from either a sports bottle or from a glass (only about the last 6 months). He is now down to 2 bottles at the most a day, and sometimes 1. Apart from cheese, my son gets all his calcium from milk, as he is very fussy with his food. The good thing is that he has reduced the number of bottles himself. So it is true, they will get off the bottle in their own time. My son will not let anyone except for his immediate family and his nana and grandad see him take a bottle.

I have a similar problem with food but my son will only take firm food. So nothing soft, except if it is hidden in a sandwich or a wrap. My son doesnt like a spoon being in his mouth. He stopped using a spoon when he could hold food in his hand. And we continually try lots of different foods, and we do vary the textures. Sometimes he eats it, most often not. Have you tried putting some peanut butter or jam etc on your finger and wiping it on his lips? If it is the texture and not the taste, then if you can find foods he likes the taste of, then it is only a matter of finding the right texture. If for eg, he likes sweet things better, then you could try some room temperature custard (my son would not take anything cold - ice cream for eg - or hot, even if we didnt think it was too hot). But after we found the right temperature and the right texture, and the right flavour, then he eats. It took a long time for us to reach this point. But he does have a reasonably good diet, but it has taken a bit of work to find what were the major factors determing what he would eat. So once we knew, then we tailored it to him, and over time have added a number of things, varied it a bit (not so much with breakfast or lunch but with dinner and snacks).

So keep going with the spoon feeds and the bottles. Try to work out (by trying different things) what type of taste and style of food he likes, as well as the preferred temperature. Then expand on it. If for eg, he really likes sweet things,then you could try a mashing up a biscuit with milk to form a sloppy mess (we use Arrowroot in Australia), and feed him that. If he likes it, you could after a few goes at that, try giving him a biscuit. If he smells it is the same as the goo that he has eaten, he might put it into his mouth.

Hopefully this gives you some ideas that might be helpful.

Chenique - posted on 05/02/2011

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well he was born with a hypoplastic lung so they are saying his metabolism is sped up because of that. He will be getting genetic testing done the middle of this month so we should know more about whether there are genetic abnormalities then.

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