Fussy Fussy

Fussy Fussy

I realised that I don’t often mention the dyspraxic element of Jasmine’s learning difference as often as the dyslexic. This past few months, her fussiness with food has been driving me absolutely crazy that I thought it a good time to talk about it.

To say Jasmine is fussy with food is the biggest understatement. She is UBER fussy. But it’s not just the usual fussiness about not wanting to eat fruit or vegetables or demonstrating a preference for sweet vs savoury. It’s actually fussiness about the subtle tastes and textures of certain foods. For example, she hates things that are mashed because she cannot bear the sensation on her tongue and she can detect the slightest changes in taste in any food.

For the last few months we have had battles about a particular Cabonara pasta sauce she has eaten for years. One day she just refused to eat it claiming that it tasted different. I argued, insisted, showed her the packet that was exactly the same as it had always looked, but she stood her ground. Out of interest, I found a picture online of the ingredients of the “old” packet and compared it to the ones we had in the cupboard. She was actually right – all the ingredients were the same apart from the inclusion of onion powder in the “new” recipe. How she could discern the subtle taste / texture difference is totally beyond me, but she could.

Jasmine has been very sensitive to many things since she was a baby: the sound of a lawn mower or hoover would cause her to freak out for instance and to this day, she cannot bear certain fabric textures against her skin. She ¬†also has a host of irrational fears, the worst and most disabling is her fear of dogs. She has panic attacks, heart palpitations, sweaty hands – all the classic “fight or flight” tendencies when she sees dogs which makes life quite tough (going to the park or just walking down the street can sometimes be a challenge!).

All of these are apparently typical dyspraxic charracteristics (in addition to the motor coordination challenges).

The problem with the fussy eating though is that it can, as with all things, be manipulated by the somewhat smart child and Jasmine definitely does try it on. Over time however, I have come to understand her sensitivities and know when she is being manipulative or indeed, when she really can’t bear to eat something. I have learned to be accommodating but also to stand my ground.

She is very fussy and it drives me absolutely mad, but I take comfort that with this sensitivity and fussiness comes a love for the unexpected – she loves and will try lots of different types of fruit (grapefruit anyone?) and will happily eat the oddest things that I would expect her to hate – sushi, celery, mince pies, feta cheese, olives, clams ….

So whilst her diet can be odd and perhaps a bit random, it is certainly balanced. I take comfort in that.

The power of Affirming words

The power of Affirming words

The dyslexic child is so used to finding things difficult at school that there is a tendency to avoid things that could be challenging, find the easy option, guess or indeed avoid trying altogether. In the case of the latter, this is often accompanied with the words ” I can’t do it”, ” it’s too hard” or ” I’m terrible at comprehension”.

I don’t think I’d ever really thought about the fact that Jasmine had become so used to saying these things, sometimes accompanied by tears, until one day when we had a full-on scene with¬†tears and drama that it all came spilling out. I realised that I needed to do something to try and break the cycle of negativity.

She was essentially telling herself that she could not do things and I could see how disabling this negative psychology was on her. She would literally just sit there paralysed.

The reality is that with some of the tasks, she could do them if she thought them through or broke them down into little steps. In the vast majority of cases she could give the task a good go.

I saw a wonderful clip on Facebook of a man who was in the habit of standing side by side in the mirror with his daughter daily, speaking affirmations and encouraging her before waving her off to school. He said things like:

I am brave
I am smart
I can do anything I put my mind to
If I fall, I will get up
If I fail, I will try again
I am blessed

I was so inspired by this very simple, yet so very impactful practice, that we do this now – before homework and also before school in the mornings (if we are not running late that is).

I also found a poster which I’ve put up too which we often look at and talk about. Picture attached.

Affirmations really do work!