Thursday, August 14, 2014

Skylers story part 10


sjrabito said...

Rebecca, first know that you’re not alone. Children with autism are five times more likely to have mealtime challenges such as extremely narrow food selections, ritualistic eating behaviors (e.g. no foods can touch) and meal-related tantrums.

This is a link to the autism speaks website with a "toolkit" for siblings of a child with autism. It might be useful for the other kids in the house.

I tell the parents of kids with autism that I work with the following things concerning eating issues:

#1 Rule Out Medical Problems

Gastrointestinal distress is common among children with autism, many of whom can’t easily describe their distress.


Many children need to taste a food more than a dozen times before they’re willing to eat it without a fuss. Children with autism-related sensitivities can take longer. Be patient as your child explores and samples new foods. If your child continues to reject a food even after a dozen-plus tries, perhaps he just doesn’t like it. Consider trying a different food. Above all, don’t let mealtime become a family battleground. Instead, get creative.

#3 Take Steps Toward Tasting

Many individuals with autism are afraid to try new things. Help your child explore a new food by looking at it, touching it and smelling it. When he’s ready for a taste, he can try giving the food “a kiss” or licking it before putting a whole bite into his mouth. Sometimes, mixing a new food with a favorite one can help.

#4 Tune into Textures

Autism often comes with hypersensitivity to textures. So remember that it may be how a food feels in the mouth, rather than its flavor, that produces a food aversion. The squishiness of a fresh tomato is a classic example. Try chopping or blending such foods to smooth out the offending texture. That tomato, for example, can be chopped into salsa or blended and cooked into pasta sauce.

#5 Play with New Food

That’s right. Playing with a new food is another way to build familiarity and decrease mealtime anxiety. Together, try painting with pasta sauce. Use spaghetti noodles to make shapes, letters, or other designs. Use veggies to make faces on pizza. Use cookie cutters to cut sandwiches into fun shapes. While you’re playing, let your child see you taste — and enjoy — the food.

#6 Offer Choices and Control

Your loved one with autism may need to feel some control over what she puts into her mouth. It’s also okay to simply not like some foods. So try to offer a broad variety and allow choices within the categories you care about. For example, you might decide that your child needs to have one serving of vegetables and one of protein for dinner. So put a few types of these foods on the table and allow your child to choose at least one vegetable and one protein. Along the same lines, if you’re making a favorite dish such as pasta, ask your child to add one mystery ingredient for other family members to discover during the meal. He gets to choose: corn, broccoli or chicken?

It is surprising how much playing with food helps some kids become more comfortable and less afraid of it.

Also, I would just like to say that it seems like you are doing a great job parenting a child with autism.

sjrabito said...

I just realized that I spelled your name wrong. My apologies.