AN 11-year-old Dorset boy, who has only ever eaten custard, digestive biscuits and baby food, is having hypnotherapy, so he can eat his first ever Christmas dinner this year.
Selective eater Josh Grove, of Dorchester, who has restricted his diet to just three food types since he was 14 months old, refuses to even put other foodstuffs in his mouth.
PA Real Life Josh Grove, 11, has only ever eaten custard, digestive biscuits and baby food
His school lunchtime supervisor mum, Lorraine, 44, said: “He’ll come into the kitchen if I’m cooking and say it smells really nice. I ask him if he wants to try it, but he just can’t.
“He’ll touch food, but he simply can’t put it in his mouth and doesn’t know why.”
He really wants to overcome his problem and sometimes he gets really upset about it, which is hard for me, as his mum, to see.”
Lorraine and his car body shop driver dad Stephen, 51, first realised there was something wrong just two months after Josh’s first birthday.
PA Real Life Since starting middle school at nine, though, Josh has started telling his parents how much he wants to eat normally
She said: “He was really ill during his first Christmas. He was just going onto solid food and we took him to the doctor, who told us to put him back down onto weakened bottles and after that, he really struggled with any solid food.
“He has had all the medical tests they can think of – things like testing his gag reflex – but they can’t find any reason for his selective eating. It’s something within his mind that makes him think he can’t eat something. He just can’t face it.”
Lorraine has now tried everything she can think of to help her son, but still he will only swallow custard, served cold, digestive biscuits and two types of jarred baby food – Mediterranean chicken and apple and pork casserole.
PA Real Life He hopes he can eat a Christmas roast this year with parents and older siblings Aston, 26, left, Antonia, 24, second from right, and Lara, 18, right. Pictured is also Josh, second from left, with nephew Keenan, centre
She said: “To begin with, we thought he was just a fussy eater.
“When he started preschool, we believed that once he was around other children and they had snack time, he would start to eat more.
“It never really happened, though. He started primary school a year later and we thought maybe he’d start eating normally there, but again it didn’t happen. At that point, we took him to the doctor.
“We saw a child and adolescent mental health team and a dietician for three years. They were very good – recommending things like rewards charts – but Josh is quite smart and he would sit in the room and say what they wanted to hear but, once he got home, he wouldn’t do any of it.”
Every morning, Josh starts the day with a jar of baby food and his school lunch box contains just a pot of custard and some biscuits. He then has more custard and biscuits for dinner.
PA Real Life Lorraine and his car body shop driver dad Stephen, 51, pictured, first realised there was something wrong just two months after Josh’s first birthday
Lorraine continued: “We have tried all sorts of things – bribery, hiding food in the things he likes, getting him to help prepare meals – but he just can’t eat anything else.
“We tried putting mashed potato in his baby food, but he knew immediately and would refuse to eat it.
“Luckily, it hasn’t caused any health problems yet. He takes a vitamin supplement once a week and a vitamin D oral solution every day, but to see him, he is a normal 11-year-old boy.”
Since starting middle school at nine, though, Josh has started telling his parents how much he wants to eat normally.
PA Real Life Soon after launching a JustGiving page, the family received offers of free hypnotherapy for Josh. Pictured is mum Lorraine and sister Lara
Lorraine said: “It’s difficult for him. We very rarely go out for food together and if we do, he won’t have anything. He just sits there.
“If we have days out together, then we have to take his jarred food in a flask.
“He’ll find somewhere discreet, as he’s self-conscious about people watching him and asking about it.
“He’ll go round to friends’ houses to play for a few hours, but he’s always home for dinner, because he finds his diet hard to explain.”
When he started middle school, Josh was concerned that he would not be able to eat like his friends, according to Lorraine.
PA Real Life Now, with the festive season on the horizon, he has also set himself a very special – to eat a proper Christmas dinner on December 25
She said: “We contacted the medical team again, but they were as frustrated as us, as they couldn’t help him.
“His doctor gave us the option of a residential NHS place in Southampton, for five to six weeks.
“But Josh would have hated missing school and I would have had to go with him, which simply was not viable.”
In the meantime, Lorraine had been considering taking her son to a hypnotherapist after a teacher at school mentioned it to her.
Collect/PA Real Life Josh is still fundraising and plans to use any money he raises to help other children with similar problems
She said: “I spoke to his doctor about tying him with hypnotherapy and she told me to go for it.
“It cost around £60 a session, though, so, we decided to start fundraising.”
Soon after launching a JustGiving page, the family received offers of free hypnotherapy for Josh, which they have decided to take up.
But Josh is still fundraising and plans to use any money he raises to help other children with similar problems.
He has had all the medical tests they can think of – things like testing his gag reflex – but they can’t find any reason for his selective eating. It’s something within his mind that makes him think he can’t eat something. He just can’t face it.
Mum Lorraine Grove
Now, with the festive season on the horizon, he has also set himself a very special – to eat a proper Christmas dinner on December 25 with his parents and older siblings Aston, 26, Antonia, 24 and Lara, 18.
Lorraine said: “Every year he asks what I would like for Christmas and he knows my answer.
“Every year I tell him,’ I want you to have Christmas dinner, mate,’ but, instead, he sits there with his jar of baby food, while we all tuck in.
“If the hypnotherapy works, having us altogether, eating the same thing on December 25 will be really special.”
To donate to Josh’s page, visit www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/josh-groves
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