Over the years we've gradually increased the chunkiness of his purees. When we started it all had to be pudding-smooth. Now we've reached the upper limits of blender chopping, a sort of chunky relish consistency. All of this to help decrease the oral sensitivities which made chewing or even just having things in his mouth such a challenge.
This is an actual picture of Alex's first time with Cheerios. He wouldn't pick them up and when I put one on the tip of his tongue, this is the reaction I got. (I had the camera all ready to record the intrigued smile ... )
Over the last two years, we began introducing solid foods. At first bread. Then bread with a tiny little dab of butter in the middle. Eventually we added peanut butter. Then a top slice of bread so that it was a sandwich. That took 18 months.
Over the last 6 months, he's added all sorts of foods to his repertoire: grilled cheese sandwiches, pizza, muffins, small vegetables (peas, corn, carrot cubes). The occupational therapist who has been working with him at school told us that she thought we'd moved past the oral sensitivity. Now we have to teach him to chew so that he can handle progressively bigger chunks of food.
He still prefers to eat pureed food: apple sauce and toddler meals for the most part. We've decided to hang up the blender and focus on solid food. We're still going to be cutting it into tiny chunks, the way you would for any child transitioning from purees to solids.
It will certainly be a challenge but it will also be very nice not to spend a few hours a week preparing the purees.
I'll keep you all posted.