Whatever Works, Part Four Billion and Two

It's official. My 4 1/2-year-old is finally using a fork and a spoon.

Also: Playing with his very own iPhone.

Honestly, it's a double-dose of relief. He's finally truly turned a corner in the mealtime battle department, and also? He's no longer borrowing MY PHONE all the time, leading to missed phone calls, dead batteries, or emails from colleagues asking why I called them just to leave 10-minute-long voice mails featuring the Elmo's World theme song.


As several commenters pointed out last week, DUH, there was no reason we had to buy Noah anything as part of our sticker-chart arrangement: I simply dug up my old first-gen iPhone for him. (I'd given the phone to my husband ages ago during a cell-phone donation drive at his office, and he had OF COURSE never even taken it out of his computer bag.) I loaded up his favorite preschooler apps and games, his own iPod playlist, and of course, the Star Wars According to a 3-Year-Old video. He can't make phone calls or go online, which is great, although we're still struggling to enforce reasonable usage rules. (We always swore we'd never give our child any sort of handheld video game, and yet ... here we are, humbled as usual.)

And yet whenever I report our success to anyone -- my friends, his teachers, and his occupational therapist -- I've been so ASHAMED of myself. I feel like I bribed him, and bribed him with something utterly ridiculous. The universal response from everybody has been: You do whatever works. WHATEVER. WORKS.

His occupational therapist said she uses sticker charts for her children and refuses to see anything wrong with it. And besides: It got him to use a fork and a spoon, or at least consistently practice with one. Two weeks ago he shrieked at the suggestion of using one, and even when he did, he couldn't get a single full bite of food from the plate to his mouth without spills and frustration and tears.

Yesterday I gave him some banana slices at breakfast, and he asked for a fork. He ate every bite, just about perfectly. He's discovered that he likes applesauce and rotisserie chicken and that he can, in fact, just eat an entire bite of ravioli instead of manually dissecting it, leaving the filling untouched on his plate.

It's weird: I know if another mother told me about using a similar tactic with her child, I'd absolutely echo the words everybody's told me this week: WHATEVER WORKS.

Private treatment. County or school district programs. Occupational therapy. Behavioral therapy. Elimination diets. Supplements. Medication. Social stories. Floor-time. Auditory training. Self-contained special education. Inclusion. Mainstreaming. Trial and error.


My iPhone bribe/reward worked. Huzzah.

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