Hey, Stranger

Today was the first day of the Special Needs in the Early Years conference sponsored by UAMS and Kids First. I have to was EXCELLENT!...except the parking downtown. The conference was at the Peabody so parking was kind of scattered. I ended up paying ten bucks that I *thankfully* had stashed in my purse (left over from the other nights Taco Bell).

The conference lasts two days, and after today's speakers I am so excited about tomorrow. Sibyl Cox, MS, RD, LD, had THREE sessions on Food Chaining. It was excellent and I learned SO much that I can use at my clinics. I also heard an awesome speaker (sorry...forgot her name right now) give an exposition on F.A.S. and the dangers of drinking ANY alcohol during pregnancy--especially the early weeks. I also heard an RD from California speak on new nutrition hot topics...including breastfeeding and pro-and prebiotics.

But the highlight of the day: I was very apprenhensive the first half of the day because of our scheduled lunch. If you know me, then you know I am very OCD. I have to have a schedule usually, or at least a plan. I get anxious when I don't know what's coming., the schedule read "Lunch on your own." Of course, I was a little bit apprehensive about this. I begged Andy to come meet me downtown for lunch because I was just a few feet from his office, but he had a loan closing at 12:00, so he couldn't. So, knowing no one at the conference, I set out alone, following the crowds, begging silently for an easy Subway that I could zip in and out and get back to the conference hall.

Unfortunately, no Subway until a few streets up and I was not about to walk that far in the heat, so I followed the crowd in front of me to Iriana's Pizza downtown (de-lish). People from the conference were filing in all around me in groups, grabbing the 4-seater tables with their co-workers. I slightly panicked. I didn't want to take the only 4-seater table left just for me. At that moment, I noticed a lady with a conference badge sitting at the only 2-seater table. I walked up and politely asked if she was alone and if I could sit there with her. She said yes and so I spent the next 45 minutes making friends with a Physical Therapist for Access Schools with a 3 year old who has ADHD and who used to work at Kids First in Pine Bluff.

You see, I am not an outgoing person. I love making friends, but I'm not the type to initiate. I normally would have turned away from that situation and even left, but something made me stay, and I had a very pleasant lunch and even made an acquaintance that I'll most likely never talk to again, but an acquaintance all the same. We actually had a lot in common, both working in an ECI setting with kids with similar disorders.

So, I have a newfound pride in myself today, for stepping out of the box. I guess you'll never know much about life unless you take chances. After all, what do we really have to lose if God is with us all the time?

Joshua 1:9
"Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage, be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee withersoever thou goest."



I consider myself to be a somewhat decent cook. Contrary to many people's beliefs, not all dietitians are good cooks, and definitely NOT all cooks are dietitians (don't even get me started). When I talk about my past cooking experiences, many people look at me and say, "didn't you have to take cooking classes in college to get your degree?" Well, did I go to culinary school or did I get a nutrition degree? I guess this is partly true. I did take a couple of classes where cooking was in the curriculum. But nothing that would teach me the lessons I have learned from just trying to cook my husband a decent dinner.

Tonight was no exception. I have made meatloaf before. It isn't hard. I had to call my sister, AGAIN, to get the recipe. I always seem to forget how long and to what temperature to cook something to...and my friends, this is crucial! So I started the meatloaf at 5:30, knowing my husband would be starving at...well, 5:30. I did everything as directed and even threw in some extra smashed crackers, hoping to enhance the loaf. I set the timer and an hour later, I'm all ready.

Except my loaf was more than ready. It was brown and badly burned on the ends.

I'm guessing that I put too many crackers in the loaf. That is all I can come up with. However, I was pretty disappointed. My endearing husband, so sweet and so careful not to hurt my feelings, tried everything to assure me that the loaf was still good, even forcing a smile as he chewed the rubbery mess and exclaiming "mmm..." Needless to say, tonight we had Taco Bell for dinner.

On a happier note, today was my LAST day of work for the next week and a half!! Tomorrow and Friday I will be at the UAMS Special Needs in the Early Years conference, hopefully soaking up awesome information from Sibyl Cox, MS, RD, LD, and Elizabeth Strickland, MS, RD, LD, two speakers that I am SO excited about! And then...Saturday, we will be leaving for our vacation in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

I'll be thinking of my dear friends as I am sipping a cold drink on beach.

For now...So You Think You Can Dance will be on shortly. Have a wonderful Wednesday!

Psalms 27:1
"The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?"


Bloggidy Blog Blog

My inspiration to create a blog has come about recently. My overloaded husband is taking 27 hours this summer, and so, I am a little less than enthused to sit on the couch all night. I am. Plus, I recently read in a report that bloggers tend to be less stressed out than the rest of America because they are able to channel their slash-your-tires thoughts onto a blog. At least, that is what I remember.

And now, two hours after I began creating this blog, here I am. Technical difficulties, and I consider myself somewhat of a computer mini-guru.

My day has been exhausting, but what day isn't? I finally have almost gotten rid of the headache I had all day. I was lucky enough to sit in trainings for three hours today.

I work in a day treatment facility for special needs children, which can be so rewarding and so hard at the same time. Today was my day to do Feeding Therapy with a 3 year old boy with autism. If you live on this earth and pay any attention at all, you most likely know what autism is, but you may not know the extreme feeding difficulties that children with autism may or may not have.

Most of my kiddos that I follow (which in number...approximately 400 special needs children) that have autism do have a mild to severe feeding disorder. Many are on a GFCF diet (gluten free, casein free) which I plan for each clinic and train each cook to execute. Many have severe feeding aversions which can arise from an endless array of possibilities. Usually, texture difficulties that are not 100% specific to autism, but very hard to deal with.

I, along with this child's Speech Therapist, Occupational Therapist, Mental Health Professional, and classroom teachers, have worked endlessly with Feeding Therapy daily to try to introduce him to new foods. We have specific instructions from a local Feeding Behavioral Specialist (an MD at Children's Hospital) on how to introduce foods to him, and we have tried a variety of our own techniques as well. His progress has been...nil. Some days we get so excited and then we go three weeks without seeing any progress.

Today when I sat down with him he was already crying, knowing lunch was coming. As soon as I tried to introduce a piece of hamburger patty, he immediatey threw his arms over his face in the ultimate shielding position and turned his head. I somehow got him to open for three bites of meat, but the rest was awful. He was more resistant than I've ever seen him, resistant to "touch, lick, taste" the pineapple or mashed potatoes (FYI...I use Kay Toomey's "Steps of Eating" program that I learned of at a conference given by Elizabeth Strickland, MS, RD, LD).

After only a few minutes, I gave up, realizing that this child was seriously upset today for some reason. I ran into his MHP a few minutes later and we discussed what had happened. She asked if I heard what happened this morning, and I said that I had heard he threw up. I wasn't too concerned about this...many of our kids throw up for random reasons during the day. After a few minutes of talking with her, I learned that another staff member (who's name and profession will go unnamed) FORCED him to eat a waffle that morning, resulting in him throwing up all over his clothes and regressing dramatically in the feeding progress we had made.

My heart hurts for this child and for all other children with feeding issues that people do this to. Please please please, never force a child to eat if they have a feeding disorder!! Actually, never force a child to eat, period!! We are in a new era of thinking. We have so much research on feeding disorders with autism and PDD as well as with premature children, but we still have uneducated people out there that believe since they raised two children of their own this way, it will work for every child.

I see this a lot with grandparents, who don't understand what we have learned about feeding disorders, along with uneducated parents/staff members who feel that this is strictly behavioral. True, there are many behaviors that go along with a feeding problem...but we need to address those separately.

So, needess to say...I had a hard, upsetting day because of this revelation. I did report this incident and I can only hope something gets done about it. But for now, I will hope that the months of Feeding Therapy we have been doing is not all lost because of one blind, uneducated incident.

And this is the end of my first blog. I'm sure for many of you this is utterly BORING...but for many of you with interest in these issues, it may be very intriguing and maybe you can offer some type of advice.

Romans 12:21
"Be not overcome with evil, but overcome evil with good."