Blakely is a happy, energetic 2-year-old that loves to play with her baby dolls and make people laugh. Born at 23 weeks, Blakely remained in the hospital for the first 11 months of her life. She needed a tracheostomy to help her breathe on her own and a g-tube in her stomach for nutrition because she was unable to eat by mouth.
Blakely spent her first 12-18 months overcoming medical challenges that were a result of her extreme prematurity. She received speech/feeding therapy on and off during that time but continued to be very aversive to any foods in her mouth. Blakely would gag or vomit when she felt food on her tongue and did not have the skills to use her tongue, jaw, or lips to eat safely.
She began feeding therapy with THERAPY 2000 in May 2020. Due to COVID-19, Blakely’s evaluation and therapy sessions have all been provided via teletherapy. She is able to be at home with her mom while they use their phone or computer to see their therapist for the sessions. Blakely’s feeding sessions have focused on decreasing her aversion to different textures and improving her oral motor and swallowing skills so she can begin to eat soft foods, mash foods, chew, and drink liquids from a cup or straw.
When therapy began, Blakely would not allow any food past her lips. She would occasionally lick foods with the tip of her tongue or hold in her mouth and spit out. However, most the time she pushed them away. Blakely’s therapist followed an SOS (Sequential-Oral-Sensory) approach to progressing her through accepting and enjoying different textures, tastes, and temperatures. Due to the sessions being delivered through telehealth, Blakely’s mom has played an important role in implementing her speech therapist’s techniques and teach her the skills she needs to begin exploring and safely manipulating new foods and liquids.
Blakely has received feeding therapy for 1.5 months. Due to the significant involvement of her family and the approaches utilized, she has made exceptional progress in a very short time. She is now picking up and licking ALL foods and biting through soft foods such as veggie sticks, crackers, or soft noodles. She uses her tongue to move those foods around her mouth and chew a few bites during each meal. She has discovered a love for sour cream, refried beans, Cheetos, and ranch! Recently, her trach was removed, and she is one happy girl! Blakely can now also take very small sips of water from a straw and is swallowing the water safely. Although she remains dependent on the g-tube to meet her nutritional needs, she is making measurable progress on a weekly basis.