Independent Eating is finally here!
I’m really excited to share this news with everyone! Chase now finally has access to a bit of equipment that allows him to feed himself independently. Due to Chases restrictions with his arms and hands eating by himself had previously been an incredibly hard if not impossible task. Chase is unable to pick up a spoon, scoop up his dinner and then accurately place it in his mouth. He would most likely drop the spoon or knock it on the floor several times, struggle to get any food accurately on to the spoon and IF it then made it to his mouth he would have likely accidentally put the spoon so far in he would have choked himself!
Why Is independent eating so important
Chase eating independently is important for both Chase and for me.
Benefits to Chase
- Greater self-confidence
- Eating more food
- increased Dignity
- Feeling inclusive with everyone else dining
Chase at one point was so close to having a feeding tube put in. He wasn’t getting in anywhere near enough calories. He disliked mealtimes and refused a lot of food. When Chase first started using soe equipment at school that allowed him to feed himself he started to eat a huge amount more. His eating improved slightly at home too but nowhere near to the amount he was eating when he was able to feed himself.
Benefits to carer
- Far less mealtime stress
- My husband and I are able to eat our own dinners whilst they are hot!
I have personally found feeding Chase one of the most stressful things about his care. Chase is able to sense when he finds people are stressed and will play up even more. My husband has had to feed him a lot of the time because he simply wouldn’t even eat for me some evenings. This behaviour has improved as Chase got older but when he’s tired (which is almost every school night) this behaviour can flare up.
The Neater Eater
The nifty bit of equipment Chase has got is called the Neater Eater. It’s a manual feeding aid that uses a special damping system and can adapt to people with tremors, weak arm muscles, amputees – the list goes on! For Chase it enables him to smoothly and easily scoop up his own food and bring it to his mouth at a rate that suits him. Chase is a little messy with it whilst we do our final tweaks to get it at the perfect set up for home but none the less he is doing such a fantastic job!
Since it’s arrived he’s been so excited at mealtimes and has eaten a lot more than I would usually expect him too. The only limitation we have is the type of food that he can use with it. Chase is actually very good at eating a lot of different and tougher textures such as burgers. But as you can see from the set up scooping up a burger on his tiny spoon would be impossible! We did have burgers one evening actually and Chase still wanted to be independent. In the end i chopped up his burger into small enough pieces and put them on his spoon for him. Chase was still very happy with this as he felt like he was still doing all the hard work himself.
I can see I may still occasionally have to feed Chase myself. He also still has to be closely monitored. This is to make sure he doesn’t choke on his food, and also to keep him clean whilst eating. But to enable him to be the one putting the spoon to his mouth most of the time is an amazing.
Perseverance pays off
It’s been a long long road to get to this point. We actually had a rep come to the house to show Chase a neater eater before he started school. Chase refused to even sit in front of it and had a meltdown! We decided to let him start school and see other children using it first. Once at school he quickly decided he wanted to feed himself. As his school are utterly fabulous they already had a bit of equipment he could use at school everyday. It has taken me well over a year, hours of phone calls and lots of stress to finally get this equipment on loan for him. I’m so happy I didn’t give up and we finally have a solution for making mealtimes happy again!