Families with picky eaters or food selectivity for children with sensory-sensitivities, including cerebral palsy, can also be a sticky subject on what to do. New year brings new resolutions; United Cerebral Palsy of Central Arizona is here to help families with picky eaters with three helpful tips.

According to Center for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 1 in 323 children having been identified with cerebral palsy. While cerebral palsy is often painted with a broad brush as that those diagnosed each present differently, United Cerebral Palsy of Central Arizona (UCP), a non-profit health and human service organization, serves nearly 3,000 people annually across the state with a variety of disabilities, including cerebral palsy, autism, down syndrome, sensory processing disorders, genetic disorders, orthopedic disabilities and more. 

“Traditionally, key factors that influence picky eating are color, texture and preparation/presentation of the food, and smell,” said Valerie Pieraccini, Occupational Therapist and Director of Clinic and Home-based Therapy Programs and Early Learning Center at UCP. “At the end of the day, the most important thing we can do for children with sensory sensitivities or food aversions is to help them explore foods in a safe, inviting way without forcing anything.”

If you’re a parent of a child with a disability or sensory sensitivity that makes feeding them a variety of foods difficult, here are some tips Pieraccini highly recommends.

Tips when your Sensory-Sensitive Child has a Feeding Disorder

1. Stick with What Works:  Don’t try to introduce new foods. Enjoy the foods that your child already eats instead.

2. Employ the Silent Treatment:  Don’t allow family gatherings to be a time that your child’s food choices are discussed, especially if your child is at the table.

3. Keep Spirits Bright: Do remember all the wonderful things your child can do and just enjoy being a parent, which is a precious gift in life.

“Let this New Year be a time to focus on new eating habits and exposing your picky eater to as many foods as possible in fun, exciting ways,” states Pieraccini.