Feeding Frustrations and Mealtime Meltdowns

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I don’t know about you folks but feeding my sensory sensitive boys with Autism can be extremely frustrating. 

Typically I make several different items for each meal because each of my boys have various food proclivities and even food allergies.

The frustrating part is they are so picky that they often times won’t eat because of perceived imperfections in their meals.  Sometimes the colors are off or the chicken nuggets aren’t perfectly round.

Other times I get this tastes funny. Mind you, it’s the exact same thing they always get. It’s like they can taste even the slightest difference. 

Then there are the times when Giant Eagle is out of round chicken nuggets but they have the exact same ones, only they are dinosaur shaped.  My thought is that I’m better off going with these than switching to another brand because they taste the exact same. 

Clearly I still have a great deal to learn because I seem to always make the wrong decision.

This food/sensory thing is a very difficult nut to crack. It could literally be anything that they perceive as wrong.


Ironically, Gavin is far and away the easiest to feed.  He’s the most complicated of all our kids but he eats just about anything….

Elliott and Emmett are the challenging ones.

What’s really frustrating is that even after all the attempts to address each of the sensory needs, they will refuse to eat. Contrary to what some people will say, these guys will go hungry before eating something that isn’t sensory friendly.

I can’t even remember that number of mealtime meltdowns we’ve had as a result of this struggle. I’m not afraid to admit that this drives me crazy. I love my boys and obviously won’t give up trying but it will continue to drive me crazy.

Do you folks have similar experiences?

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Rob Gorski

Full time, work from home single Dad to my 3 amazing boys. Oh...and creator fo this blog. :-)
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My son has all sorts of issues with eating. He is extremely sensitive to texture and will oftentimes refuse to eat anything that is remotely solid. He prefers soft, mushy foods that can easily dissolve in his mouth. And he’s gone through several stages when he refused to eat anything at all and during those times he never once seemed to be hungry, which I found completely perplexing. I had previously thought that if he did not eat during one meal, eventually he’d get hungry enough to be more cooperative during feeding time. Nope. He also has a lot of oral motor issues and doesn’t quite get the hang of using his mouth to chew and swallow food. It’s definitely been a challenge to say the least.
We’ve had to deal with several pushy relatives who just don’t seem to understand or at least be mindful of his challenges with eating. They’ve tried to force foods on him despite knowing he will not eat them and also that he might not even be capable of eating them due to his oral motor issues. That was a frustrating situation do deal with because these people were so pushy and would often intervene and try to take over during feeding time. It got to the point where we literally had to cut ties with these relatives because they were creating more harm than good. And since cutting them out of the picture, things have gone a lot more smoothly in my opinion. My son has feeding therapy and they’ve been working on his oral motor skills and trying to make him become more self aware while simultaneously trying to introduce him to new textures.


I get all sorts of hell from extended family members. They, ironically enough see my son as defiant and bratty, instead of a child with autism. My son has always been tall and thin. Scary thin. He eats junk. What I mean by that is that the kid can survive without ever having a veggie, fruit, or otherwise balanced meal most of the time. He is worked with at school in his PPCD class for feeding issues and has actually put on weight. I cannot figure out his issues with textures, tastes, ect. What he does eat : chicken nuggets, pop tarts, spaghetti, pizza, pretzels , graham crackers, potato chips, tortilla chips, waffle fries, flavored yogurt, rope sausage, ritz crackers, nutrigrain bars, bread, and…. I found one of those prepared toddler food meals with vegetables in it…. It is organic chicken & quinoa with carrot, zuchinni, and celery…. Or at least he used to eat it until recently, when they changed something about it, including the design on the outside of the package. People see this list of food and think I am lucky for having a child that will eat a variety of foods, the problem is, it is actually more limiting than people realize AND he refuses to eat altogether quite frequently. I look at this list to see some common trends and what I find is they are full of gluten, most are extremely high in sodium, and most are food he prefers to eat at room temp. It made o some hella scary times when we tried to eliminate gluten and casein from his diet an resulted in a loss of some serious weight.
With that said, I could serve my son EVERYTHING on this list, and NONE of it would be desirable for DAYS. I track when he poops, if he has been sick, all sorts of things, and simply put, he goes on hunger strikes. These hunger strikes are frequent, occurring at least 3 times a month, and lasts in duration from 1 to 5 days. On average, it is a 3 day strike. I am so glad he will chew flinstones and drink vanilla pediasure. Problem is, pediasure is 10 bucks for 6 cans and he will down 3 cans a day. We tried similar alternatives like carnation breakfast, or even giving him a different flavor.
As far as meltdowns are concerned at mealtime, this is daily. In fact, it is our number one source of stress in this household. I know others have it more difficult than us, and I am grateful that

Jennifer Hall AlZaeem

Feeding my son is a nightmare!

Shalina J Black

Hey, Rob, at least yours eat “real food”. My little guy is severely autistic and non-verbal. He won’t eat food. Period. Right now his meals consist of Pediasure Vanilla Shakes, which before anyone decides to judge his pediatrician is fully aware of and suggested.

Christine Lyn Hostetler-Johnson

I can tell you this…it does get easier; BUT, they will still have that “pickiness” with them. (I’m sure it’s not a word…pickiness…but I’m making it one)
Matt is 18 1/2. Will be 19 in October. We have gone from “Cheese and butter HOT” to now calling it Grilled Cheese. He still calls it the other way from time to time. Things have to be in a certain order going on his plate, it has to be placed just so, and yes…if the taste, texture, or shape is off even just a slightest bit…OYE!!!! But he never used to eat mustard or ranch, and he does now. (May vary on WHAT he’s using it on, but he DOES eat it!) I love it when he tries something new and he loves it! (And yes, I’m one of those Autie Parents that post it every single time on FB or call someone to brag about it.)
Matt has come a long long way from first being diagnosed. We still have meltdowns, he still hoards everything he gets (cleaning his room once a month is interesting and even the garbage guys know when we have cleaned his room). We still flail around, we still have habits, we still have routines (not as strict, but still have routines). He can basically be left alone for long periods of time and take care of himself, but he still has some issues. Eating is just one of many. What we do is just take 1 day at a time. We give him a choice (ex: Matt, would you like pork chops or chicken tonight for dinner. Noodles or Mac n Cheese? Applesauce or lima beans?) He eats more fruit than veggies, but we can at least get corn, carrots, and green beans in him. It won’t go away, but it DOES get better. Honest!!! Just take it one day at a time and feel free to vent frustrations to me or someone else when you can, or you’ll just drive yourself crazy trying to figure out what changed from one day to the next. 🙂


Have you ever thought about using a cookie cutter (or a small one) to make ‘perfect’ chicken nuggets for example? Could get them involved too and see if they like the idea.