Claire has never wanted to be fed by anyone but herself, so when her
finger feeding skills went away, she wouldn't eat. They didn't actually
go away, they just degenerated into random, unsuccessful swipes at her
food. After five years, her pincer grasp returned to about 80% of normal, but she does not have good utensil skills.
To improve Claire's chances of successfully feeding herself, we tried
the following things (and many more, but there's no point in listing those
Special plate and placement: We gave her an unbreakable plate with rounded edges. A microwave plate
with three sections also worked well. This allowed her to try to scoop
the food herself, and it wasn't a crisis when she knocked it off the
table. We placed her plate on Dycem, a thin plastic/rubber type material
often used by OT's, that gripped the plate to the table, so it wouldn't
move as much. Rubber soap holders (with suction cups on both sides)
or rubber squares (that you grip jars with to remove the lids) also
Finger foods: We gave her finger foods that weren't messy and were easy to grasp.
The cereal and snack food aisles at the grocery store are full of these
types of food. Her favorites are: mini-marshmallows, pretzels, raisins,
bananas, grapes, Cheerios, Apple Jacks, Froot Loops, Goldfish crackers, M&Ms.
We put the food on a tray for her to snack from when she's hungry.
Hand-over-hand feeding. We would guide her hand to the food,
let her attempt to grasp a piece of food, then guide her hand to her
mouth. We have repeatedly found that showing Claire's body how to do
something helps her immensely. We weren't doing the grasping for her,
just stabilizing her arm and hand so she could focus on her fine motor
Supplements: We supplemented her diet with PediaSure, Ensure, and Instant Breakfast.
This way, she could eat what she could feed herself, and we didn't worry
about the nutritional content. Claire gained an appetite when she hit puberty, so now we give her low-calorie food and drinks (Crystal Light) and supplement her diet with chewable children's multi-vitamins and chocolate calcium chews.
Here's a tip from Christy Young:
"For the plate, there is a small plastic device available through
most OT's. It is a semicircle that attaches to almost all sizes of plates.
Travels well and gives all plates the "ledge" that the kids seem to need."