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Back on the Curve

Our son had fallen off of his growth curve about six months ago. Since he was getting close to two years old, he was tested for milk allergy. When his results came back they indicated he was likely no longer allergic to milk. In light of this new information, his GI (gastroenterologist) recommended we switch him to Pediasure Peptide 1.5.

At our last follow up our son regained his place on his growth curve. Now that he’s back to doing well we’re starting the tube weaning process. Due to Noonan’s Syndrome, we don’t expect it to be fast or easy. Truly we’ve been working on tube weaning all along. Our efforts have just been focused more on preventing bad things, like oral aversion, over forcing progress. We now believe all medical issues have been resolved to the point we can begin forcing progress without causing harm.

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Life with a Tubie

Life with a Tubie

In honor of Feeding Tube Awareness Week, I thought it would be interesting to share what it’s like to have a child with a feeding tube. Yes, there are differences in how we do things sometimes but not as many as you might think. Not every family’s experience is the same so there may be some significant differences between our routine and someone else’s.

The first thing we do when our son wakes up is feed him. We have a schedule but it’s flexible enough we don’t need to wake him earlier than he’s ready to get up. He still drinks from a bottle even though he’s almost 2 years old because, typically, kids drink less when they transition from a bottle. Once he’s eaten as much as he wants we vent the air out of his tube. After, we feed him the rest of his food by gravity. We attach a syringe to his feeding tube without the plunger and pour his formula into the syringe. We allow his stomach to accept the food at whatever rate it’s comfortable and read books while he’s being fed. For most of this process, he sits or lays in my lap. We read two to three books during the remainder of the feeding keeping him relaxed and comfortable. We repeat the feeding process every three to four hours.

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Taking a Step Back

Having a child on a feeding tube is an emotionally difficult thing at times. No matter how hard I try, I’m frequently plagued by mom guilt about my child being unable to eat enough to keep himself alive. All of the feelings tangled up around our son’s feeding difficulties came out into the open today. There was no gentleness about it, the scab was ripped clear off the wound without mercy. There was a ton of notice it was coming, leaving the discomfort to steadily build alongside the anticipation.

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Our Little Trooper is Now Diagnosed

Our Little Trooper is Now Diagnosed

We now have an answer for why our son has been struggling so much medically. It turns out he has a genetic mutation in a gene SHOC2 which causes a condition called Noonan Syndrome-Like Disorder with Loose Anagen Hair. This is all new to us, we only found out about it yesterday. It’s been even more difficult to get our minds around it because Dad is still recovering from his surgery. From what I can tell so far the diagnosis is overall good news. Speaking to other parents whose children also have this condition, it’s quite possible our son will grow out of his feeding difficulties. It’s also not a degenerative disease, so whatever he accomplishes won’t be lost to the condition as he ages.

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Why My Child Doesn’t “Look” Like They have Special Needs

I love this! It’s so well explained. I’m frequently in this situation with my son since he mostly struggles with eating and gaining weight. It’s not obvious to strangers he has a feeding tube, and his therapy has significantly lessened the harmful effects of his hypotonia.

Special Needs parents often get many comments about why their children “look” fine. Here is my answer to why that is for my children and many others.

Source: Why My Child Doesn’t “Look” Like They have Special Needs

Generously Donated Signs for Medically Fragile Children

Generously Donated Signs for Medically Fragile Children

In response to the recent flurry of discussion around how to keep our special needs children well, one of the moms in our support group graciously agreed to donate printable signs for medically fragile children. I asked for a name to credit, and the creator generously declined.

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4 Reasons Special Needs Kids Can’t Afford to be Sick and How to Help

We, as special needs parents, spend a lot of time fighting off illness. It’s difficult to explain to friends and family members what’s necessary to keep our kids well, and what they can do to help. I’ve listed a few common reasons special needs kids just can’t afford illness, as well as what friends and family can do to help in each case.

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Benefits of Joining a Support Group

Support groups are one of the most helpful things I’ve found to keep my sanity. There’s nothing quite like sitting down and talking through your problems with people that deal with the same issues you do each and every day. I vaguely remember what it was like before I joined them, but mostly its a blur. I knew nothing about tube feeding when they placed my son’s nasal gastric (NG) tube in the hospital. If not for our home care nurse coming once a week I would’ve been completely and utterly lost.

A few people have told me I appear to be handling things really well and have my life together. I thought about why, and it’s because of my support network I’m able to stay calm and keep going. Without them my sanity would scatter to the wind within a matter of days.

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The Difficulties of Breastfeeding, a Special Needs Perspective

In honor of breastfeeding support week, I would like to share this with all of you. I wrote it a good while ago and decided to shelf it indefinitely. I think I’ve come to a place where I’m finally comfortable sharing. Enjoy!

Let me start by saying, a lot of people in the previous two generations do not understand breastfeeding. They bought in to the sales pitch that formula is better for your child. They believe bottles are better than the breast. The first time your child seems to struggle (even if only a little) being breastfed, the overwhelming response is that shoving a bottle of formula in their mouth will make everything better.

In order to balance this out, others have gone to the extreme to claim breastfeeding is best in all cases. There is never a situation where formula needs to be given, and if you give your child formula you’re denying them the chance to bond with you fully. The truth is in between, as is usually the case. There are situations where children need to be fed formulas. I didn’t know this when we started on our journey with our son, but there are formulas designed to help children with medical needs such as difficulty digesting and unknown allergies.

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Caring for a Child with Special Needs has Been a Growth Opportunity

In my experience, when people look for growth opportunities they usually talk about things like traveling, training, or networking with a specific community of people. I’ve done all of these things, and they certainly do expand your horizons. For me, none of them have done nearly as much to grow me as a person as caring for our son with feeding difficulties.

After talking to other moms, I’ve come to understand it’s different to care for a child without health problems. Then, you’re balancing between how much attention is appropriate to give them versus how much independence you can gain for yourself to accomplish your tasks for that day. The balance is different for us. We know exactly how much attention our son needs, and most of it is spent making sure he’s fed and actively performing his assigned physical therapy exercises. I don’t think of it as less time for him is more time for me to do what I need to do. Less time for him is slower progress toward walking and crawling independently.

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