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Nobody Understands How Hard It Can Be To Eat

We first met Paul’s mom in group therapy at the Star Institute, we sat together in a little room with other parents, anxiously watching our little kids work with a team of feeding therapy professionals. We watched through two-way glass as our children worked through new foods, struggled, and learned. We got to know many parents, but we have stayed in touch with Kim and her husband as time has passed. Charlotte and Paul remain friends and love to spend time together. Charlotte loves when Paul’s birthday invitation comes because he has the best parties! When we launched Charlotte’s Day, one of the first people we thought of to help us was Kim. We are so fortunate to have her serve on our Board of Directors as our Events Coordinator. We want to thank Kim for sharing the following story about Paul and their journey.

“Nobody understands how hard it is to eat, until you are trying to teach your child. Our journey began with labor and delivery challenges. Immediately upon birth, it was apparent that Paul needed help. After some time, it was determined that he had suffered a birth trauma damaging the nerves in his neck which prevented his vocal cords from working correctly. This made swallowing very dangerous, as fluids would go to his lungs, very uncomfortable and uncoordinated. Medical interventions like feeding tubes and oxygen helped him survive the year-long healing process he needed. We were so grateful for his progress and very proud of his hard work but had reached new challenges. We had a 1-year-old child dependent upon a feeding tube, never had anything but a pacifier in his mouth and a great fear of trying to eat after lots of scary, painful moments.

It became my mission to find the best help for him. After a few therapists, we found the STAR Institute and slow progress began. One of the most impactful statements to me, said to the parents crowded behind a one-way mirror watching our children work so hard to conquer textures and flavors, was “the brain ranks safety over nourishment”. Light bulb moment. He did not feel safe in his “one size fits all” high chair or balanced on my knee. His brain was so focused on not falling over that he couldn’t focus on eating too. The recommendation of a Tripp Trapp chair was taken seriously and in just a few days he had one at home just like therapy.

In a matter of weeks, his eating improved. Not just what foods or how much but his willingness to sit at the table with his family improved. Slowly, over 2 years, he weaned off the feeding tube and we began the new path of “normal”. It has been more than 2 years since his feeding tube was removed. Paul is in kindergarten and still sits in his chair for meals, homework and other times he wants to focus better. I believe having his feet grounded, being at the correct height for the table and the security of the adaptability of the Tripp Trapp chair, has helped Paul immeasurably.

My family is so grateful to be able to provide this resource to our son but hefty price tags on adjustable chairs, like ours, make it impossible for many, many families. Mailboxes packed full of medical bills and insurance statements, calendars full of doctors and therapists appointments and the overwhelming stress of eating challenges was unbearable but with a lot of help from all corners of our world, we made it through.

Now, I have the wonderful opportunity to pay it forward as a member of Charlotte’s Day board of directors. There are so many families living through the daily struggle of eating challenges and really need a “new corner” to offer a new opportunity to grow. Please, make a donation to Charlotte’s Day to help provide this amazing resource to other children. Paul thanks you in advance!”

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