Sunday, June 14, 2009

Low Tone Affects Taste as well as Movement

I found the following comment on a website I frequent; it was from a mother of a child with the diagnosis of Down syndrome who was questioning her child's eating behaviors.

  • My little guy (21 mo old) refused to eat his lunch I had cooked for him but loved the spicy jambalaya I had fixed for some of the older folks in the family. When he started eating it, he'd grab his mouth (like it was spicy hot!) and fuss and cry. I'd give him some of his coconut water, he'd calm down, then he'd sign "more" for the jambalaya. He did this several different times during the eating session. I know it was spicy because I was eating it, too. (hot pepper, red pepper sauce, Creole seasoning) He only ate about 3/4 of a cup, and at that point I stopped feeding it to him because italso had onions and green pepper in it. It was fairly healthy (made w/brownrice, etc...) but not something I would feed a "baby". Has your child(ren) done this? Is this bad? Is spicy stuff too much for kids w/DS? Am I overly concerned about nothing?

Once again I am amazed that pediatricians and therapists do not explain to their families that when children are diagnosed with Low Tone/Hypotonicity it also means they may have Hypo-sensitivity/Hypo-responsivity to touch, taste and smell. This little guy is demonstrating my point. He likes foods that are highly flavored because he can "taste" them. Kids with hypo-sensitivity like foods they can taste so increasing flavor for these kids is essential. It will also encourage them to chew because they can perceive the food in the mouth. For many of my clients I use dips (ketchup, salad dressing, bar-b-que sauce) to increase the flavor of any foods I want them to eat for nutritional intake. I worked with one kid whose mom described him as having adult taste buds. So in response to this parent the "spicy stuff " is only a part of what your child is telling is the taste he wants. I would encourage her to increase the flavor as we really do not know how the "spicy stuff" is affecting his digestion.


  1. For my 15 month old son with Ds, I almost have the opposite problem. I may have made a mistake by using jarred baby food, but any time I introduce the "real" thing, he rejects it. He did have an issue with textures that we have gotten past, however, for instance, if I offer a smashed banana, he spits it out and continues to refuse it. If I give him baby food bananas he eats it with relish.

    Thank you for creating this site and answering questions - please keep the information coming!

  2. Wow, that's amazing! I have noticed that my child (almost 2) does seem to have a high tolerance for spice as well. Now I know why.

  3. My daughter 2 1/2 with DS is fed through a g-tube and is just now starting to feed orally with some success. We have also found that she prefers spicy and salty foods. She is extremely allergic to milk products so we are still limited but I'm glad she is showing some success!

  4. This is so interesting to read because I too have discovered (on my own) that my little one with DS prefers food that is highly seasoned or flavored. I didn't realize it was due to low muscle tone though; I just thought it was one of her "things." I even mentioned it to her DS pediatrician at Children's once, but she chalked it up to just being a trait of my daughter. She didn't make the connection to the low tone at all. In fact, I specifically asked it if was common for children with DS, and she said it was just each child was different. Hmmm... Interesting to see that SOMEONE sees a trend.

    I love the tip about adding flavors such as ketchup or salad dressing to foods that I want her to eat. Don't know why that hasn't crossed my mind yet, but it's a great suggestion. I can't wait to try it. Now, I'm wondering if that is why she refuses to eat fruit. Maybe to her it is very bland.

    Oh, and yes, I noticed that same thing about being able to perceive the food in the mouth. It helps her to have a bigger bolus of food because she "feels" it and actually learns to chew. The flip side is that I am more nervous about her choking becasue the food IS bigger. Now I will try just highly flavoring and giving smaller pieces. Thanks so much! The information you are sharing is so helpful and making a difference.

  5. Thanks for posting this Sara! It's good to get this out to families. I agree that not too many realize the effect on taste that hypotonicity may have. And if they have been told, it's difficult for them to really "buy" into it sometimes!

  6. This is wonderful information. Thanks so much. I'm new to your blog. I'm sticking around.

    Thanks again. xox

    Windmills and Tulips

  7. Wow-thanks for this. My 2-year-old has CP and has liked spicy and highly-flavored foods for a while. My husband and I thought, too, that it was just one of his things and that it was unusual that such a young child liked "adult" tastes. I have learned to flavor his foods more, adding BBQ sauce and ketchup as suggested here. I also noticed that he likes highly textured foods, like kiwi and pears. No one ever said this could have been because of low tone. But it makes perfect sense. Thank you!