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7-year-old son won't swallow solid foods

My son stopped eating solid foods a couple of weeks ago. The doctor checked out his throat and nothing appeared to be wrong. He also has not had any traumatic incidents happen that we are aware of that might trigger this reaction. It began a few weeks ago, he would spit out food occasionally at a meal...this would get worse and he would spit out several times. 2 weeks ago he came home from school without any lunch eaten, this is when I decided to take him to the doctor...strep test was negative, and he doesn't complain of throat pain. He did say it felt like phlegm was in his throat, so we tried Zyrtec in case it was allergies (which he has never been diagnosed with), but the Zyrtec didn't help either. The first few days of this, he would eat certain solid foods, like Cheerios or Goldfish...he has since stopped eating these as well :( He managed to pretty normally chew and swallow an Oreo cookie a few days ago. He is now being treated for possible reflux issues with Prilosec and Pepcid, but I have not seen any changes. If he tries solid food, he visibly chews and chews  the food until it is liquid, but then has to still spit it out, can't swallow even though it's liquid!? I know he isn't trying this, and doesn't want to deal with this...he has said, "I feel stupid," and "I hate food." It is heart breaking to see :( He is living off of yogurt pops, Pedisure, and milk...I am SO worried about him!

Please let me know if anyone has experienced this with their child...thank you!
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Avatar universal
This is still going on for us. It started mid last year. We have been to every specialist possible.
He has been diagnosed with autism, sensory processing disorder and ARFID, this is an eating disorder. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Avoidant/restrictive_food_intake_disorder

We have just arrived home from a 3 week admission at hospital. After almost 9 months of eating only soup, he is now having about 5 swallows of solid food per meal. When eating he has severe panic attacks about choking, however this has reduced in intensity and frequency with anti anxiety medication. He continues to live on pediasure hopefully over time the solid food will increase. The dietician gave a formula for the pediasure to increase the calories and reduce the amount he needs to drink, it has helped for him to be able to finish all the drink.
My previously happy healthy child became a skeleton in front of my eyes. He should be around 26kg and at his worst he was 17.7 kg. We went to an occupational therapist who did SOS therapy this helped him make great progress and enjoy the taste of food. We continued with the eating disorder clinic and aventually he was admitted to hospital under this program. He is now a beautiful 23kg, a little way to go in weight and a long way to go in swallowing however now the stress has been relieved a little. It's a lot of hard work but well worth seeing my baby smile and play again.
I truely feel for all families affected by children not eating. It is the most heartbreaking thing to go through for all involved. The child, parents and also siblings. I recommend not waiting and not relying on 1 or 2 opinions. Keep going to specialists until you find someone to help. In Australia we used a private eating disorder clinic in Sydney until we were referred to the eating disorder clinic at west mead children's hospital. My son went to over 50 appointments and had an admission to our local hospital, no one knew what to do. I just kept going until I saw results. Many tears and a lot of heartbreak later he is on his way to a healthy weight and making progress with swallowing.
Thinking of everyone xxx
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2 Comments
Hi i am so sorry to hear about your son. I am glad things are improving. I have had only 3 weeks of this and i am so worried. My 8 year old has started chewing his food, having a choking sensation then spitting it out. I am so worried. Doc found nothing so far. It seemed to be a viral thing. He says his food is getting stuck. He is popular, happy boy normally so im so confused. im scared to let him out my sight..
Hi, I read your post about your 8 year old and I am reaching out to you for guidance. My 8 year old is also having the same issue for the past 3 weeks. Until this problem started, she has been a healthy child. We are yet to get the endoscopy done. However, if you can share your experience , I would greatly appreciate it. Thanks.
Avatar universal
Yep been there too...been through that many nutritionists and a specialist GP each saying "there's nothing wrong/we don't know what's wrong."

She's always been fussy and not a good eater anyway.
Now she only occasionally chews her food the chokes and spits it out but we went through a period where she did this every meal time for a couple of months...as a result my daughter can go two weeks without food happily. She's skinner than a take but active and generally happy, well behaved (mostly).
We reduced the amount of milk she had and took out some junk food such as Choc milks and chips (they were a suggestion of a GP to help her gain weight).
It helped but she's still very fussy! She doesn't eat veggies, bread, dairy (bar milk) and most fruit. Plain meat and chicken is ok but it can't have anything touching or on it and even then she sometimes will choke and spit it out.
It was hard to watch her go through that and she still remembers the nutritionists. It was traumatic at times and so many people thought she was doing it just to gain attention/be stupid or I was doing it purposefully...crazy!
Hoping you find something that works for you. Don't listen to others trying to put you or your child down...go do what's right for your child and you and get the help you need.
Best of luck!!
Helpful - 0
Avatar universal
Going through the exact same thing with my 8 year old son right now.  It is heartbreaking.  He chews his food until it is a liquid consistency and then spits it out.  All tests show that there is nothing physically wrong.  Been to emerg, doctors, pediatricians, ENT and they all say he will eat eventually.  I cannot accept this answer because it has gone on too long now (almost a month) and is affecting him at school. Next appointment is with a child psychologist, but I will be calling a speech therapist after reading these comments.  Any other advice would be greatly appreciated.
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Avatar universal
Are there any problem with snoring at night?

My little sister had a thin object lodged in her throat which allowed only liquids to pass. Because it was thin and flat, tests did not show anything as it would flatten against the throat. Neither did a throat exam because the passed right be the item. Can't recall which, but eventually an xray, cscan, or mri showed it.

I asked about the snoring or difficulty breathing at night because the flat object would shift when she was laying down. Actually went on a sleep apnea machine before the cause was discovered.
Helpful - 0
Avatar universal
School is not an issue at all. Her teacher says that she is so relaxed in school. She's an excellent student and doesn't get stressed out about school work at all. She's been progressing slowly with the therapy (OT and psych) and her anxiety is starting to decrease. She's eating only foods that she thinks she can chew easily and quickly. We're supplementing her caloric intake each day with at least 3 Pediasures. Her weight is still concerning me so we're working closely with her pediatrician as well.

This is all so nerve-wracking. We're in week 6 or 7 right now with this latest episode.

I hope everyone is doing well and your kids are progressing in a positive direction.
Helpful - 0
Avatar universal
Since the 5th of September our sons weight has dropped significantly. He has now been hospitalised. We went to the speech pathologist, a paediatric dietician, the paediatrician and continued at the eating disorder clinic. The doctor has been wonderful and has not completed any invasive tests. He had a barium swallow test (my son thought this was cool) it came back normal. He is now having an MRI on Monday. they completed genetic testing yesterday and are looking at completing cognitive testing for autism.
Helpful - 0

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