For Rochelle. 🙂
Many children are “picky eaters” and many parents have ways of dealing with that. This is not about that, per se. I just wanted to share some of the “You Get It!” smiles moms and dads of autistic children can have.
Autism doesn’t present itself the same way in every child, of course. But many of us “autism families” have to deal with major food issues.
When I was growing up, it was “Eat this or be hungry.” My brother and I plugged our noses (to dampen the tastebuds), and shoveled down the unwanted food. Because we didn’t want to be hungry that night. It worked for us.
With my younger son, this isn’t an option. He won’t eat. He just won’t. “They will when they’re hungry” I’ve heard it said. But with my son and others like him? Not so. Sometimes, their need for things to be a certain way overrides other needs.
So…we make things work for them. Food should not be a source of stress. It’s a source of nourishment. I don’t want to have any further food issues in the family.
Let me know if any of this sounds like what happens in your house:
- Food cannot be touching. In fact, different food should ideally be in different bowls or on different plates.
- One utensil for one type of food. Corn and pudding get different spoons.
- If a plate has a pattern that should go a certain way, it better be set on the table that way or it will be rearranged.
- Some meat can only be tolerated if cooked from home. Some meat will only be eaten when not cooked at home. Ever. Ever. Ever.
- Pulpy juices are evil and must be double-strained or they are no longer potable.
- There is one and only one brand of (fill in the beverage here). Yes, they taste different. If the taste isn’t the same, the food is wrong and inedible. Ever.
- Eating is a solitary activity. Unless it isn’t.
- Taking medication requires a certain ritual that involves applesauce, identical bowls, and particular spoons.
Any changes to any of the above must be discussed in advance. And demonstrated. And then accepted in advance or arrangements must be made to accommodate. Because sometimes, the need for routine, for order, for predictability overrides common sense, pain and hunger. Because sometimes, the brain is wired to be contrary, not to survive.
I smile, stockpile plastic spoons and applesauce, and keep the broccoli on standby. This might be the week when that’s all he’ll eat for dinner.