Dietary issues are pretty common when dealing with kids on the #autism spectrum. Factor in things like food allergies and sensory issues and it really can get complicated. I can’t stress this enough. I wish people would throw away the old saying that if their hungry they’ll eat. I don‘t think that it applies here.
We aren’t talking about just picky eaters. These kids have a physical aversion to certain colors, smells, tastes and textures. They’re not being difficult. In many cases the child will go hungry rather than eat something that will upset them. When you add in food allergies or special diets, you’re essentially removing options that can make getting them to actually eat, extremely difficult. My Elliott’s the same way. We met with a dietitian yesterday to seek advice. Elliott is losing weight and hasn’t grown in the last year or so. One of the things we are focusing on, aside from avoid tree nuts, is increasing his caloric intake. I’ll be honest, I’ve basically violated many of the rules in parenting 101. At times, I have resorted to bribery, in order to get him to eat. Tonight, for example, I ordered pizza because I knew he would eat it. I’ve been trying to get him to eat all day and at most he would nibble and that’s it. I don‘t want to hound him or have him develope unhealthy eating habits, but the bottom line is that he needs to eat. I know many of you face the same problems, perhaps for different reasons. I’m so tired of trying to explain to people how much sensory processing issues can complicate dietary things. I think it’s a difficult concept to grasp. Thankfully, most of our family is on board. I still get the odd, if he’s really hungry, he’ll eatfrom people. I was thinking it would be a good thing to talk about this and share our experience, tips and tricks. How have you coped with this type of dietary struggle? Please share your story in the comments below. 🙂
My Jordan is the same. I've tried so hard to get him to eat. I'm sick of people that haven't a clue saying hello eat when hes hungry I dont want my child to starve.then I finally get him to eat sausages and he likes them.I have people moaning hell put on weight. Omg. I'm like butt out. It's head wrecking
Ha ha ha. If they are hungry they will eat . Sounds a lot like if they get tired enought they will go to sleep. Not so much! I make a meal and most of the time the three year olds sits there until we leave the table and then he sneaks in and eats it. Guess he doesn’t like our company. He on likes food that is portable. Like to walk and eat. Obviously not many restaurant visits!
My Aspie son, now 11.5 years, has had sensory issue, food preferences, food aversions, and food “jags” since day 1. No known allergies. He nursed very well and transitioned to oatmeal fine (with mushed up egg yolks), and then would only consume orange veggies & fruit for many years. About 4 years ago, he decided he hated meat, and now he is a steadfast vegetarian. There’s been a lot of recent changes in his diet – driven by him, since I have truly not been able to choose for him ever, despite trying essentially everything other people mentioned here 🙂 With the help of his school OT (she’s incredible), this year he is eating lunch at school in a quiet room with 1 friend. He brings sliced peppers – green, orange, yellow, red – with salad dressing/dip, chocolate milk, cookies, Goldfish, and a fruit. Last summer he decided he loved fruit smoothies, so we blended those up daily, maybe 2 or 3 some days. I added a probiotic powder (berry flavored) to frozen strawberries, bananas, mangos, raspberries, pineapples. He will eat/drink yogurt drinks too now – he used to only eat Stonyfield Farm chocolate yogurt. I guess my point is to not lose hope. I never thought my son would eat healthfully and being an OTR/L myself, it drove me nuts to feed him a steady diet of pizza and bagels & cream cheese. But that is truly all he wanted to eat. I gave up the struggle years ago b/c I wanted home to be a relaxing place for him, knowing that the world is stressful for him. My heart goes out to all you parents who were also “blessed” with similar eaters. I hope it gets better for you all 🙂
My aspie eats about 10 different foods which unfortuantely are not the best. Therefore he is about 25 pounds overweight which is a whole other health issue. Since chicken nuggets are a staple, I have found ways to make “new” chicken nuggets that are healthier. Also, my son is very sedentary and I think that is part of the problem. Do other parents have that issue? My son refuses to do anything remotely physical because he is “afraid” he will fall. Therapy helps with the anxiety, but nor necessarilly with the action. I am about to lose my mind! Texture is a main problem, so protein drinks or fruit smoothie are a no go. Would appreciate any ideas!
My son only eats about 4 things and that’s being generous because the main dish is hot dogs with american cheese. Once in awhile rice and gravy minus and meat, pepperoni pizza but he hasn’t been wanting at home lately only when we are out, once in awhile grilled cheese maybe every 4 months, and bacon. His favorite snacks are pretzels and mini m&m’s in the tube only. The only thing he will drink is tropical punch kool aid so not the healthiest diet but I give him what he wants or he will not eat. I have begged, threatened, taken away things, and nothing works he has such sensory issues that he gags on almost everything. I always have people tell me ” I would make him eat it” ( of course these people do not have an autistic child and do not have a clue) it’s easier said than done when he goes into melt down mode if I try to force him to do anything. I don’t want him to have anxiety over eating, but I just wish he would try something new.
@JenniferWhynott @MicheleChaney @PurpleLogicGlitch @lostandtired @rmagliozzi @T Great feed back everyone. 🙂
Our DS7 is a very picky eater, too. He currently eats about 20 foods, mostly pretzels and similar snacks, chicken nuggets, and dairy. We’ve found that he does like the Ensure chocolate milkshakes, so he has one for breakfast every morning. His dev ped said let him eat whatever just to get calories in, so we encourage ice cream and full cream yogurt as well. After an initial weight loss on Aderall, his weight stabilized and is increasing again.
Regarding the food allergies, is it just tree nuts? My daughter is allergic to tree nuts and peanuts, had an asthma, vomiting, and hives reaction the first time she tried peanut butter and so needs an epi pen, etc. We didn’t go crazy about becoming nut free in the house, because prior to discovering the allergy she was not having any issues with eating chocolates, etc., that supposedly may be processed on the same machinery as peanuts. I figured the food we had in the house that she was already eating without incident is ok. Other than a slice of multigrain bread that I didn’t check the label on (which she promptly threw up), it hasn’t been that hard to steer clear of tree nuts and peanut butter.
what about planning a meal and snack menu each week and letting Elliot help plan it? That way he might feel like he has more control over it and won’t be so scared of having a food reaction. I am sure his favorite foods will be on the list as well.
I am so over it with food issues, it is rediculous. My daughter who is 10 now gagged on baby jar food until she was 9 months old, pediatrician did nothing because she was gaining weight. By the time she was 2 we resorted to the you cannot leave the table until you try 1 bite of everything, that wasted hours a day. At 4 she went on a five day hunger strike because she found a sliver of meat hidden in her noodles. All she consumed was 2 glasses of milk daily. By 6 we were running out of her foods on purpose hoping she would get hungry enough to try something else. Her pediatrician told us to keep trying and hide food in her stuff and give her a vitamin. Yeah right!!! So now she has been in therapy for 2 1/2 years with a play therapist because at the ripe ole age of 7 she wanted to kill herself. This started the slope of research and the only thing that seemed to fit was aspergers and anxiety. I tried feeding therapy for her and then found out that each session would cost me 100 bucks a pop after insurance and I had to bring the food. Can’t afford that and then had her assessed and officially diagnosed as an aspie with adhd and anxiety. Her therapist didn’t agree and neither does the lady at the school. However, many of the parents I know who have experience with aspie kids and know my child well agree with the assessment. So to answer your question I make sure I have her 12 foods in stock and let her eat whatever whenever as long as she only has 2 brownies a day and some yogurt and cheese as well. She can now swallow pills so I get a vitamin in her. The theory on her is that because she has been so aversive to food for so long that tasting causes her brain to send messages to her tongue food is bad spit it out. When I try brain training her anxiety builds and the thought of licking a food causes her to flip out. What to do what to do?
@JenniferWhynott Have you tried things to lower the anxiety, like relaxing music, supplements like magnesium or ashawagandha? We use both on my son because he has major anxiety. I have also heard low zinc levels can cause picky eating.
I tend to make food that will push the sensory buttons without going into overload. After a while it doesn’t bother them and I can push some more. I also say that you need to eat whether you like it or not, taking away privleges if it is not at least partly eaten. I also supplement, which helps with sensory overload. If they don’t get there supplements for a couple days they have more problems with their food.
Tough love works some of the time, have to pick my battles, usually gauge what is needed by reaction. With my oldest progress was only made by being tough, he would take advantage of the situation otherwise and not try to push through some of his issues…seemed to get better as he got older as well. 🙂
I was a very very picky eater as a child. It had to look pretty, smeel good and be sweet for me to want it. My mom used to make milkshakes with veggies, meat and other healthy stuff hidden in them, along with the banana milk and chocolate. Like your famous soup, try hiding the healthy stuff