Connor Hoyle Associated Swallowing With Pain At A Young Age, So He Forgot

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Eating. It’s something almost all of us take for granted. But, believe it or not, some kids actually have to learn how to do it.

It can happen for many reasons.

As CBS 2’s Dr. Max Gomez reported Tuesday, one young boy learned just in time to have his first holiday dinner.

Feeding and swallowing problems can happen for many reasons, including medical conditions, birth defects and neurological issues. Most babies are born with a suckling reflex so they can breast feed, but they have to keep practicing that or they either forget or never learn to eat.

That’s what happened to little Connor Hoyle.

Connor is 3 years old, cute, smart and so stubborn he wouldn’t eat, even when he was hungry.

“He had really bad acid reflux when he was little and, um, he had a milk sensitivity and so he associated eating with pain and decided it wasn’t worth it; clinically stubborn,” mother Jessica Hoyle said. “He stopped eating at 7 months old and, um, had to be hospitalized for dehydration.”

Connor’s stubbornness was evident, even after his reflux was treated. It got so bad doctors had to implant a feeding tube in his stomach. That’s when mom decided to come from North Carolina to the Center for Pediatric Feeding and Swallowing at St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital in Paterson, N.J. It’s an intensive three-meals-a-day, four-week program for both mother and child.

“Often times the parent does have to be trained to where sometimes it’s where to place the spoon, how fast to go, what is the correct texture for what the child’s pattern is in order to make them successful,” the hospital’s Dr. Peggy Eicher said.

The training started with a therapist feeding Connor. Mom watched the session through a two-way mirror. For Connor, it started with liquids, then pureed foods and eventually tiny bites of solid food.

It was a labor-intensive process.

“It’s feeding him every two hours at least at this point and sometimes the feedings can take at least 45 minutes, so you do the math,” Jessica Hoyle said.

It was even tougher because Connor’s mom was on her own. His dad is a Marine that was deployed in Afghanistan.

But just a couple of weeks ago, it all paid off. Connor actually ate his first Thanksgiving meal ever.

If doctors can find the cause for the feeding problem, the St. Joe’s program is almost 90-percent successful, CBS 2’s Gomez reported.

Early Tuesday morning, Cpl. Ross Hoyle returned from Afghanistan and shared his first meal ever with his son – pepperoni pizza.

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