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Child’s Fear of Choking – Client Case

Recently I was called to a hospital in Tucson by a parent concerning their 4 year old son.  The little boy had stopped swallowing any foods for about 16 days, he would not even swallow ice cubes.  He had been admitted to the  hospital the previous week due to acidosis from not eating or drinking.  A month before he had caught a cold with lots of  phlegm and drainage which had caused him to cough and have difficulty swallowing.  He kept saying he was choking and started to refuse even his favorite foods and then refusing even liquids.  He even started taking food out of his mouth and throwing it away and crying hysterically.  He had lost weight and was becoming weaker and weaker.  After admission IV’s were started, he had an endoscopy done to rule out any obstruction and was seen by a speech therapist.  He was also seen and evaluated by 5 psychiatrists.  After talking to his mother I found out which cartoons were his favorite, because I would use these fantasy friends in his therapy.  I made up a story for him about Dora the Explorer, Boots, and Swiper.  Of course the little boy was the most important character in the story.  The mother started reading the script to him often and he listened to the CD while sleeping.  Two days after he started listening to the CD he had eaten some chicken nuggets and yogurt.  Two days later he was released from the hospital and sent home because he was eating and drinking.  I talked with the mother two weeks later and he was doing much better, but would not feed himself.  I explained that frequently children regress in their behavior when they have gone through a stressful time.  I made a new CD for him based on his new behavior and within a couple of weeks he was feeding himself and had gained all his weight back.   He has returned to a happy, healthy little boy.  Children are in unintentional hypnosis until about eight years old and what they see, hear, and happens to them is true for them.  That’s why he became so afraid to swallow anything. In his mind swallowing meant choking no matter what it was.  In his CD’s I told him a fantasy story with suggestions related to his eating and swallowing.  To children these stories are real and are accepted as real in their subconscious minds, causing the new behavior to occur.