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Why my child still cannot scoop food?

Weak wrists and shoulders can have several impacts on a child's ability to scoop food.

Weakness in the wrists and shoulders can lead to inadequate grip strength, making it challenging for a child to hold and manipulate utensils effectively. This can result in difficulty maintaining a secure hold on the spoon or fork while scooping food.

Weak wrists and shoulders can compromise the child's ability to stabilize the utensil, causing it to wobble or tilt during scooping. This lack of control can lead to difficulties in accurately scooping the desired amount of food and maintaining control while transferring it to the mouth.

Weakness in the wrists and shoulders can limit the child's range of motion, making it difficult to perform the necessary movements for scooping food. They may struggle to extend their wrists and shoulders adequately, hindering their ability to scoop and lift food effectively.

Weak wrists and shoulders can lead to quicker muscle fatigue and reduced endurance during mealtime. As a result, the child may experience increased difficulty scooping food as the muscles tire, leading to decreased accuracy and coordination.

What can you do to work on this at home?

Allow your child to paint, write, and complete homework while you work on a vertical surface. A vertical surface can be either a wall, mirror, window or an easel. Your child can do wheelbarrow walks to the bathroom to wash hands before dinner time. If your child is not strong enough to hold their own weight and collapses while you hold their ankles, hold your child either by their knees or thighs. That reduces the weight that they have to carry through their arms.

Toys to purchase:

- stamps

- window markers

- sqiugs

- twister game

Children with autism may also experience sensory challenges related to touch and texture, which can further affect their ability to scoop food. They may have difficulty tolerating certain textures or struggle with sensory processing, making it challenging for them to manipulate the utensil effectively.

Children with tactile sensory challenges may have aversions to certain textures of food. They may struggle with touching or handling certain textures, making it difficult to engage in scooping activities with those types of food. They may avoid or refuse to touch foods that feel slimy, sticky, or lumpy.

A child who has tactile sensory challenges may have difficulty perceiving and interpreting tactile input accurately. This can affect their ability to distinguish between different textures and textures of varying thickness or consistency. As a result, they may struggle to gauge the appropriate force and depth required for effective scooping.

Tactile sensory challenges can inhibit a child's exploration and play with different textures, which are essential for learning how to scoop food. If they have difficulty tolerating certain textures, they may miss out on opportunities to practice and develop the necessary skills for scooping.

What can you do to work on this at home?

Introduce textures in a gradual and systematic manner. Start with textures the child is more comfortable with and gradually introduce new textures over time. Allow them to explore and interact with textures at their own pace, respecting their comfort levels.

Implement desensitization techniques to help the child become more tolerant of textures they find challenging. This can involve gentle exposure to textures through activities like touching, playing, or manipulating sensory materials. Gradually increase exposure and provide support as needed.

Engage the child in sensory play activities that involve a variety of textures. Offer opportunities for tactile exploration with materials like water, sand, rice, or playdough. Encourage them to touch, squeeze, and manipulate different textures in a safe and supportive environment.

Use visual supports, such as social stories, visual schedules, or visual cues, to prepare the child for encounters with new textures. These visual tools can provide predictability, reduce anxiety, and enhance their understanding of what to expect during sensory experiences.

Empower the child by providing choices and opportunities for them to have control over their sensory experiences. Allow them to choose which textures to explore, how long they engage with them, and provide options for alternative textures if needed.

Seek support from a qualified occupational therapist who specializes in sensory integration. They can provide individualized strategies, activities, and interventions to address tactile discrimination and aversion issues effectively.

Offer praise, encouragement, and rewards for the child's efforts and successes in engaging with textures. Positive reinforcement can help motivate them and build their confidence in gradually overcoming tactile challenges.

Create a sensory-friendly environment that takes into account the child's sensory needs. Consider factors such as lighting, noise levels, and the presence of calming or comforting items to help reduce sensory overload and create a more comfortable setting.

Remember that each child is unique, and it's important to approach their tactile challenges with patience, understanding, and flexibility. Working closely with professionals and incorporating these strategies into the child's daily routine can support their progress in managing tactile discrimination and aversion issues over time.

Occupational therapists can provide adaptive strategies and assistive devices to facilitate independent feeding. This may include using utensils with larger handles or modified designs, providing visual prompts or guides for scooping, or recommending specialized tableware that promotes stability and control.

Through a combination of targeted interventions at home, therapeutic activities, and individualized strategies, occupational therapy your child can gain their independence and develop the necessary skills and stability to scoop food effectively. The ultimate goal is to support their independence and participation in mealtime activities, enhancing their overall feeding experiences and promoting healthy eating habits.

Please reach out if you have further questions at

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