Hello ARFID Parents,
I am back from my pit of despair. I've been doing some practicing lately. I've been practicing a new approach on positivity and "getting ready". Like I've said before, I believe that where your focus lies, also lies your experience. So, if you focus on the positive, then more positive will come. If you focus on the negative, then more negative will come. That has proven itself over and over for me and my son. It's like trying to convince your child to try a food...if you focus on pushing and pressuring them, then they just push and pressure back (and completely shut down in the process). So, we are starting fresh, with a positive approach on getting ready.
I have found many solutions for my son over the past 10+ years. And I always wrote them off as "not working". But, I'm starting to think that is not true. I was so excited and convinced by the most recent therapy, that I took a year of certification courses and became a "Certified ARFID Practitioner". Now, you may wonder why a Certified ARFID Practitioner can't help her son. I wondered too. But now I understand, because my son has shown me...he just isn't ready.
The most perfect therapy in the world can be sitting in front of our ARFID kiddos and it will not help them one bit if they are not ready. But the trick here is that they cannot get themselves ready, because their perspective is one of tremendous fear. As parents, we are in the perfect position to help them get ready. And what are we getting them ready for? We are getting them ready to try therapy again. Any therapy that feels good to them.
At this point, my son does not participate in meals. He doesn't use utensils, etc. He basically needs to learn how to eat from the beginning with both food and being a participant of a meal. Right now, forcing him to sit at the table is pointless. He is not ready. So, I work to help him find the foods and the environment that he is most comfortable in. If that means sitting on the couch while eating, then so be it. And I don't really care what any one thinks about my parenting. Because my goal is to get him good where he is at, so that he is ready to take the next step. Maybe the next step is eating at the table. He will tell me through his actions and reactions what is next.
Now that we are good where we are at, we are getting ready for the next step - which we don't know what it is yet, but we are getting ready. So, I wrote some words on an index card (see below) and I have my son read it once a day when he is eating. After he reads the card, I ask him, "Do you believe it?" He always says yes. I don't know if he does believe it, but as long as he keeps saying "Yes" then we are working in the right direction. Here's what the index card reads:
I am full of appreciation and joy now that:
- I eat and drink whatever I want without fear .
- I eat the same meals as my friends and family.
- My body is healthy and is growing big and strong.
This is where we are at. We are getting ready to start therapy, but only when my son is ready. We are working to get him ready with a gentle approach of finding what's comfortable to him and then working to expand those boundaries through positive thinking. Once we've sat here a little while, I will talk to my son about what can we do next. We may even draw up a plan of the steps that we will need to take to get him to the goal of eating. He can come up with his own steps as to how we can go from getting him from the couch to the table. Then slowly, we will take a step and get ready for the next. It has to be in his control, or we will never progress.
This is our plan...getting ready for therapy. I will keep you all posted!
I am an ARFID Mom. I am the mother of a 12 year old boy with Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID). I have become the "expert" on my son's feeding issues. I am here to share what I've learned.