Wisconsin family seeks help at LifeScape for son’s eating issue

Published: Nov. 14, 2023 at 7:42 PM CST
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - There are actions that are basic to human survival, and it can be tough to imagine someone having problems with them.

For example, the act of eating. It seems like it is an easy thing.

But for some kids, it is not. They have problems chewing and swallowing. How do you get past that? A mom from Wisconsin came to Sioux Falls, hoping to find a solution.

Zohan is a 5-year-old boy. He is cute and friendly, and he has a problem that has plagued him for all of his life.

“He was vomiting anytime he saw food. He didn’t know how to chew food,” said Melissa Carrier-Damon, a program development manager at LifeScape. She is part of the intensive feeding therapy program.

Zohan is part of that program, and Melissa is the one leading him through it.

“Before coming here, he was only drinking milk, water and a few spoons of yogurt. that’s all he could manage.”, said Samia Islam, who is Zohan’s mom. She says he was a preemie baby and from birth until a few weeks ago, he could not adequately chew and swallow real food. He would choke and throw up, eventually becoming fearful of food and anything having to do with eating. Samia had to hide his high chair because Zohan associated it with food. He had to be fed by a tube or a baby bottle. And all previous therapies showed no real sign of breaking through and solving the problem.

“I’ve been working with him on his chewing skills so he can eat regular solid foods,” said Carrier-Damon.

After hearing about LifeScape, Samia brought Zohan from Wisconsin to Sioux Falls to work with Melissa to see what would happen and if there would be the kind of breakthrough that would be needed to ensure Zohan would have a healthier, easier life.

They were expecting something akin to a miracle.

And they got it.

“This is something we never imagined three weeks back — now he’s eating and enjoying,” said Islam.

“He has exceeded our expectations — mine, his mom’s, everybody’s,” said Carrier-Damon.

What had not happened three weeks earlier was now happening.

Zohan was eating solid foods, chewing and swallowing like he should be — the result of three weeks of therapy, three sessions a day.

Cheerios, peaches, carrots, chicken — Zohan can eat all of them now.

“I’m extremely happy with his progress. I personally felt a lot of pressure. He came all the way from Wisconsin. I knew how important this was to his family,” said Carrier-Damon.

And with this significant problem now addressed, it opens up a whole new world for Zohan and his family.

“I’m glad we decided to come here,” said Islam.

“Patients like him — they’re the reason I come to work every day,” said Carrier-Damon.