Location: Texas, United States
Challenges:RJ has a heightened sensitivity to textures when it comes to food. He tends to gravitate towards starchy and crunchy options. He gags, vomits, or will refuse to eat if faced with undesirable textures or new food.
Formal PFD Diagnosis: Yes
Age of Formal PFD Diagnosis: 4
Type of Insurance: Cigna
Percent of monthly budget that goes to feeding difficulties: About 33% or more.
Does insurance cover any / all medical costs? There is an astronomical co-pay. It was recommended that RJ get therapy treatments once a week. Which adds up quickly.
I noticed Robert's (RJ) feeding difficulties after he exclusively transitioned to solid food. He displayed an extreme aversion to certain textures, strongly preferring crunchy foods. Consulting with medical professionals, I was advised that children would never starve themselves and that waiting him out was the best approach – he would eat when hungry enough. They were wrong. RJ would rather starve to the point of vomiting stomach bile than eat certain foods. The experiment was over, and I allowed RJ to eat whatever he wanted until I found a better solution. I researched the problem and discovered information about PFD. It was a relief to finally have a name for his condition.
RJ began feeding therapy in January 2023, though paying the weekly invoice proved challenging. This is why I'm grateful for the Family Assistance Program; their emotional and financial support means a lot to my family. The strategies we learn from a licensed feeding therapist are easy to implement at home. Everyone is able to step up and assist RJ during meal times. We all celebrate the small and big wins.
It's crucial to recognize that PFD can affect any child and family. While some children face physical challenges, for RJ, the issue is psychological. The journey from PFD to adventurous eating is difficult, requiring grace for both parent and child. I believe early diagnosis and coverage would have altered our trajectory, providing the means for more immersive therapy and support during the crucial stages of RJ's development.
What having coverage could mean
Having insurance coverage for Picky Feeding Disorder is like taking a much-needed breath. Raising a child with PFD transforms meals from moments of bonding, family, and community into burdens. Discussions about food become laden with guilt, shame, coaxing, and occasional victories, but mostly tears. Ensuring a child with PFD receives nourishment entails frequent trips to the grocery store, even with a pantry full of food, as running out of a "preferred" item means your child might go to bed hungry. Parents and caretakers of children with PFD feel like they're trying to breathe underwater. However, with insurance coverage, a life raft is provided for families. The child receives the necessary support and therapy, ensuring they get the proper nutrients. Meal times become enjoyable for families, and they are relieved of one less financial burden.