Thursday, March 24, 2016

Therapy Tip: Throwing At Mealtime

Welcome to Therapy Tip Thursday!

This is the day that I give a tip or idea based upon my experiences as a parent of a child with special needs and a pediatric speech-language pathologist.

Today, the tip is for children who throw their plates.

What? Your child has never done this? You are blessed! Come back next Thursday!

This was a problem in my house for what seemed like an eternity. When Jaycee was a toddler, she often threw her plate and cup at meals. She thought it was hilarious. She didn't understand when we got on to her. We were so frustrated as we spent our meals holding Jaycee's plate down to keep her from throwing it. In resturants, we were reluctant to give her a plate because we knew that she would toss it to the floor when we were unprepared.  

The solution I came up with was:  picture cue placemat.

This placemat was a miracle for Jaycee. The placemat, with an actual picture of her plate, provided her with the visual cue to keep her plate on the table. At the time, Jaycee was good at matching pictures, so this concept helped make this work.

Steps to make:
1. Gather up your child's plate and cup, if needed.
2. Take a digital picture of the plate (and cup) as if it were sitting on your child's highchair or table.
3. Print out this picture in an 8X10 size or sized to fit your child's highchair tray.
4. Laminate the placemat or place it in a plastic sleeve to protect it.
5. Tape the protected placemat to the tray or table where your child sits.

Using the placemat:
-Once the placemat is placed where it needs to go, show the child the real empty plate. Tell the child, "I'm going to fix your plate and give it to you. You need to keep this plate here."
-Show the child how the plate and the placemat plate are the same. You may check their understanding of where it goes.
-Fill the plate up with food and place it on the plate on the picture located on the placemat.
-Give your child verbal cues to keep the plate where it needs to be.
-Only after several successful meals using the exact plate on the placemat would I suggest that you change the real plate to avoid confusion.

I have tried this with other children with varying degrees of success. I hope this makes your mealtimes more enjoyable.

Therapy Thursday is for informational purposes and not intended to be therapeutic advice.

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