Pediatric feeding disorder therapy helps 15-month-old Columbus child eat at her own pace

May is PFD awareness month
A Columbus child struggled to eat since birth, but pediatric feeding disorder therapy helped get her to a point where she can eat some food.
Published: May. 19, 2022 at 7:17 PM CDT
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MOUNT HOREB, Wis. (WMTV) - A Columbus child struggled to eat since birth, but pediatric feeding disorder therapy helped get her to a point where she can eat food more easily.

According to Mount Horeb Speech Language Pathologist Kelly Lonergan, one in five children will struggle to eat before the age of seven.

Fifteen-month-old child Palmer Fischer was born with Congenital Myasthenia Gravis Deck Seven Syndrome. Her muscles were too weak to swallow food. Since then, she goes to pediatric feeding, or PFD, therapy to learn how to eat at her own pace.

Palmer’s mother Alyssa Fischer said feeding her daughter is not easy. Alyssa and her husband use a syringe to feed Palmer liquid nutrients through a gastrostomy tube or “G-tube”.

”In the beginning it was very hard and you always think, Why us? Why me? And it’s hard to not do that pity party,” Alyssa said. “But in the huge grand scheme of things you go, ‘It’s okay we have Palmer and we’re going to get through this.’'’

Lonergan said it takes several steps to help children like Palmer.

”It’s those micro steps that families wouldn’t know unless they get therapy,” Lonergan said. She explained that there is a difference between picky eaters and children who physically cannot eat. “Mealtime should not be stressful. If you are banging your head against the wall and your baby is screaming every single time you give them a bottle you dread the next time that you have to feed your baby or the next time that’s lunch time. That’s not normal.”

Palmer took her first bite of tuna on Thursday, a sign of big progress.

”You never think that you’re going to see the day that your kid does that,” Alyssa said. “And then you see it and witness it and it’s a great feeling.”

Alyssa said she thinks PFD therapy will help Palmer gain more eating independence as she grows. Their neurologist predicts Palmer will be able to eat on her own at two years old.

”From where we were to where we are she’s normal,” Alyssa said. “And when people say, ‘Oh…” You just stop them and say, ‘It’s okay. Please don’t. We don’t need your pity.’ She’s doing fabulous and that’s where we leave it.”

Lonergan said one common mistake parents make is to trick their young children into eating. She said infants are smarter than people think and tricking them breaks important trust.

Lonergan’s website contains several resources for parents to learn more about PFDs and if their children might be living with one.

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