How Schreiber Transformed Our Son’s Feeding Challenges: A Personal Testimonial

Written by: Schreiber Client Finn’s Mom, Danielle Gwilt

Our son Finn was diagnosed with food allergies shortly after his first birthday, and a chronic digestive condition called Eosinophilic Esophagitis (EoE) about a year after that. Due to allergies and discomfort due to EoE, feeding Finn was a challenge pretty quickly after he began solid foods. He was incredibly reluctant to try or even touch new foods or drinks. Finn started occupational therapy, prior to coming to Schreiber, at 18 months for these feeding aversions and sensory issues. While this initial round of OT helped us to learn about Finn’s sensory needs, we made no progress at all with his eating and decided to stop the therapy. We were then referred to a speech therapist outside of the Schreiber Center to see if they could help. After about a year of visits with them, while Finn had made minor progress, they felt we didn’t have anything new to try and we were discharged from their care. 

During a visit with his nutritionist around Finn’s third birthday we were discussing his ongoing feeding issues and she recommended that we reach out to the Schreiber Center for Pediatric Development. She recommended we try to see Sarah Terry specifically if she was available, as she had heard Sarah was especially good with strong-willed, picky eaters. We quickly realized how right she was! A few months after Finn turned 3 we had our evaluation and acceptance into Schreiber’s OT program, and were lucky enough to get a slot in Sarah’s schedule. 

Finn working with Sarah to drink from a training cup

At the time of our admission, Finn (3 years old) was drinking from a bottle only, would only drink oat milk, and refused every type of cup offered. He was only eating 8-10 foods with regularity. He was also still eating baby food purees every day as one of his main foods. Our initial goals with Schreiber were to get Finn to try new foods, add new foods into his diet as regularly accepted foods, and to drink out of anything other than a bottle. 

Initially, Finn was very reluctant to attending therapy, likely because he had been through other programs. What Schreiber offers is so different from anywhere else we had been. Schreiber allows for kids to make their own choices (toys they want to play with, a certain apparatus they may want to try, etc.) while still working toward the child’s goals and setting clear boundaries. Finn quickly warmed up to Schreiber and to Sarah due to the fun atmosphere and the incredible patience and understanding she showed while working with us. Sarah employed a wide array of play-based OT to entice Finn to try new foods. He was able to get the needed sensory input to his body by jumping and climbing in the large OT room before moving to a smaller room for therapy. Sarah would spend time playing with toys, games, painting, etc. in exchange for Finn touching, playing with, and eventually tasting the new foods. 

Finn trying new foods in OT at Schreiber

Sarah took the time to get to know Finn and his interests and form a true relationship with him. She made his appointments fun and silly, all while working towards his goals.  She was never visibly frustrated with him, even through some incredibly frustrating visits where he would flat-out refuse to cooperate. And she celebrated each win with us – no matter how small. Her positive and good-natured attitude made returning each week a pleasure, rather than the chore that therapy can often feel like. Sarah gave us suggestions on foods to try, ways to make slight alterations to foods to get him to accept new things, and a ton of tools to use at home as well.

We’d be remiss if we didn’t also mention Lisa at the front desk! She always welcomed our family with a smile and would greet Finn by name within just a few short weeks of his attending Schreiber. She truly assists in making Schreiber feel welcoming from the time you walk in the front door. 

The progress Finn made through our time at Schreiber is truly remarkable.  His willingness to try new foods, and to try foods more than once, has grown exponentially. He has a much larger catalog of widely accepted foods he’ll eat on a routine basis. He no longer drinks out of a bottle and will drink more than just one type of drink. 

Finn posing excitedly with his Schreiber OT graduation handprint

There are no words to express how much Schreiber positively impacted our lives. We are forever grateful to Sarah and the team at Schreiber for all they did for us and would highly recommend them to anyone whose child needs assistance! 

Help Schreiber Clients like Finn receive the care they need, consider donating in support of our Kids’ Care Fund, a long and short term savings account used to cover the costs of uncompensated care.

As a nationally recognized pediatric facility, the Schreiber Center for Pediatric Development provides family-centered education and therapy programs for infants, children and adolescents with disabilities, developmental delays, and acquired injuries. Our goal-oriented approach maximizes each child’s ability to function independently within the community.