National Eating Disorders Association

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worriedCOmama
10 yr old son with possible anorexia-new

I'm a newbie to this arena. Waiting on an eating disorder referral to Children's Hospital where it will still take 4 mos to get my son in for an intake appt. Gathering info/advice in interim of how I can best support him:

My 10 yr old son appears to be anorexic (meets many of hallmark signs) hasn't gained an ounce of weight since April. Is fearful of "getting fat", has narrowed the foods he'll eat. He has sensory issues that seem to be peaking now which is puzzling since as a toddler ate ANYTHING.

He attends a 2-hour weekly feeding group at Children's Hospital Therapy to introduce new foods, develop skills to add those to his diet and seems to perform pretty well in that setting. He often is simply not hungry, refuses breakfast most school mornings, gets "full" very easily, often after just a few bites of a meal. I've tried fast meal replacements which he no longer likes. I'm willing to make anything for breakfast but he'll insist his tummy hasn't "woken up" yet and off to school he'll go.

He does hot lunch at school (provided by outside vendors).I select his meals and aim for something well-rounded that he'll like. BUT he'll not eat at all if his foods touch on the plate, for example. I tweak his menu where I can.

He has a "sweet tooth" and often wants to jump straight to dessert after dinner which I hold off until he's at least eaten half of his dinner then I push for healthier/some redeeming healthy choice dessert.

He's extremely depressed. Had a suicide attempt 2 weeks ago and started antidepressants is making his depression much WORSE so his pediatrician suggested I now begin to wean him off it over the course of this week. He's had 6 sessions with a play therapist. Likes her but I'm not seeing much progress yet.

In the past year my son has wanted to quit activities he used to enjoy. Gave up his club/competitive soccer spot this school year, quit choir, quit school newspaper. Doesn't want to ski this year (I moved us to Colorado to enjoy the great outdoors and he's become an excellent skier.) He doesn't want to hike anymore. Or travel (I do some travel writing in exchange for comped trips which he used to LOVE and now refuses to go anywhere.) I didn't allow him to quit piano or scouts. He still likes tennis but it's only 1x/wk.

Other factors at play for my son: He's a gifted/talented identified kid (which has a higher pop of depressed kids). He doesn't induce vomiting or exercise to lose more weight mainly I suppose because that doesn't occur to him to get even skinnier.I'm a single mom/sole provider, no family nearby. Moved here to CO 5 yrs ago.

Due to a car wreck I was in/losing a personal injury case, we're now in dire financial straights-my income has plummeted. $40K med bills, unable to work to capacity pre-wreck. I now am saddled with the legal defense costs of the driver of the truck that hit my car. As a result, we're on Medicaid. So options for mental health VERY limited. Can't get my son into see a pediatric psychiatrist until Jan 4 so only his pediatrician is monitoring his meds and I sense this is out of her comfort zone. I have one more door to knock on thru county avenue on Monday to try and find a ped pscyh sooner.

Any advise for a parent new to the world of (what seems likely to be) anorexia would be MUCH appreciated!!

Thanks-Lori

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2Joy2love
worriedCOmama

worriedCOmama,
I am so glad you posted. It breaks my heart to hear of the struggle your son is going through and how hard it is for you also. ED's are very destructive and so stressful. It sounds like you are doing this mainly on your own, I can't even imagine how overwhelming and hard that would be.
Sounds like the program at the children's hospital is helping him, that is good. Do they have a IOP program that he could do before they get him into residential treatment? An IOP program is where they go multiple times a week, hours each day to help them with Eating Disorders. They eat there, and also have classes for them.
Before we put my daughter into a hospital for 2 months we were trying to get her to eat, we were monitoring her use of the bathroom, and it was so hard. I have learned some things since then. That I needed to not let her decide what and when she would eat. She had gotten to the point that she would eat only about 5 things. We were so desperate for her to eat that we let her eat just those things. She would take so long to eat and she would only eat if the tv was on or she was reading a book. It even got to the point that she would not eat with others. When she was released form the hospital they told us that she was to eat a variety of things, that she could eat all types of foods (even sweets), that she needed so many portions for each meal, she had 30 minutes to eat the meal and whatever she did not eat she drank a shake for. It was very stressful, no more watching tv or reading a book while eating. We started playing family games while we ate. She had gotten so much into her ED that she did not want to connect with anyone. So playing games with us actually helped her recover from ED. She could not leave the table until she had eaten her full meal or drank a shake for what she would not eat. I found that when I set up some firm rules and boundaries around this it really helped. There were times that she sat there for a long time, before she would drink a shake for what she had not eaten. She only did this a few times, then she realized that I was not going to let her not eat. How we set it up is we gave her 30 minutes to eat a meal I plated for her. I would set the timer and if she was not done when the timer went off, I would remove the food that was left and I would put the shake in a large cup (I would put in an amount that would replace what she would not eat, I would not let her see me pour it in. So at times the cup would be almost full, at other times very little in it). She then needed to finish the shake before she could leave the table. If she was late for school, then she was late, She needed to eat. She also has to wait the full 30 minutes before I will let her drink the shake for a food she does not want to eat. This may not work for your son but it really worked for my daughter.
We found that for my daughter ED made her go from an outgoing, energetic child to a child that did not want to be around anyone, that did not want to go outside- because people would be there, she started to self harm and she has tried to commit suicide. She did not smile for a long time. Now she complains that her face hurts because she is smiling more.
There is great hope. My daughter still has some real struggles, she also has triumphed over many things. She is so much healthier, she is connecting more with people and she is letting herself feel and figure out what to do with those feelings.
The advice I would give to you is to take some time each day and do 3 things for yourself. They can be small things. Read a book for 15 minutes, watch the sun set, put on make-up, watch a tv show, go out to lunch, listen to your favorite song, ect. They do not need to be big or time consuming. There was a time that I could not do one thing for myself in the day. I was so overwhelmed, so tired, feeling that I was such a bad parent that I did not deserve to do anything for myself, feeling selfish for doing something for myself when my daughter needed me. I have come to realize that my daughter's struggles and choices did not make me a bad parent and also that taking care of myself was a gift I gave to her, my husband, and my other 5 children. Know that you are not alone. This sight has helped me a lot. There are many that have given me love, support, prayers, and hope. They also have numbers on this sight of people you can call that can help you if you need to talk, and can help you know what services are in your area.
2joy2love

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Hi 2Joy2love!

Thank you for sharing your story on the forum! Your post was slightly edited to adhere to community guidelines, available here to review: http://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/community-guidelines. Users are not allowed to mention specific foods or products.

Please continue posting!

kelsey207
Share some NEDA resources

I just wanted to chime in and share some of the NEDA resources that might be of use to you.

2joy2love mentioned that you can call NEDA; you can call or chat online with a trained volunteer to find out more about treatment options and resources near you: https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/information-referral-helpline

The Parent Toolkit has a ton of great information: http://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/parent-toolkit

Here are some other links for loved ones of those suffering, as well as some information on financial support that may be helpful:
https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/parent-family-friends-network
https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/information-referral-helpline
https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/insurance-resources
https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/family-and-friends

Good luck! Please keep us updated and feel free to post here anytime you have questions or need support. We wish you and your family the best.