Independent Mealtime For Kids With Motor Impairments
Renata Bursten, Dragonfly Staff
Using mealtimes to promote independence, self-care skills, and social interaction.
Mealtimes are about more than just food. They are also about self esteem, social skill development, and practical skills development. Let's say that they way to a kid's brain is sometimes through their stomach, and that's a good thing.
Some mealtime strategies suitable for classroom, preschool, and home:
1. Make sure the child is well positioned for maximum freedom of movement.
2. If possible, sit the child close to the sink or garbage. Then, give them a 'job' so that they participate in cleanup activities.
3. Look into adaptive cutlery, dishes, cups, and such when you identify a motor condition causing awkward self-feeding. Try to match the utensils to special techniques or feeding programs that the child may be using.
4. Adapt for the whole class or group (when possible) to avoid that singled out feeling. For example, give everyone no-slip place mats or hard cups (instead of paper cups) to avoid isolating the child who has the 'special' cup needs.
5. Make sure the child has enough room at the main table. Try not to seat the child at a separate table.
6. Try play activities that build the same fine motor skills needed to self-feed. For example, blow bubbles with a No-Spill Bubble Tumbler and develop the motions for handling cutlery and bringing food to the mouth.
There is a special magic to mealtime, a connectedness that draws us close. When we all participate, we all benefit, and those benefits last throughout the rest of the day.
,Enjoy your mealtimes!