EATING

Have a child on the Autism Spectrum? You probably have a child with eating (and/or drinking) problems. This can be a result of sensory, behavioral, compulsory, dietary, or Autism issues.  And to further frustrate you, it can be a combination of any of these as well.

For us, we used to have a boy who only ate toast, sandwiches, breaded chicken and other meats. He suffered from sensory/tactile food aversions from most soft or wet foods. We never could get him to eat puree baby foods.  It was a great struggle for us. We sought out two food therapists to no gains. It was when we started applying ABA type strategies that we started making gains in his food diversity.

So what does that look like? Here is an example. Our son's favorite food is bacon. Yes, I said bacon. He will do anything for bacon (to a point). We wanted him to eat applesauce so we used bacon as a motivator/reward for accomplishing this. We started off small. One small bite of applesauce and he would receive a whole strip of bacon. This is to get the ball rolling.

And he fought us. He kicked, he screamed, he cried. He wanted that bacon but didn't want that applesauce to touch his lips. After 10 minutes of prodding and goading... he ever so slightly put it in his mouth. He didn't eat it but it was a step. We gave him the bacon and praised and celebrated his accomplishment like he had won the Olympics. We tried not to get upset, react poorly, or appear discouraged during the whole meltdown or when he spit it out. Concentrate on the good steps and behaviors and you'll find yourself on the way to success. Slow, slow, success. And you may even back track on occasion.  This will be a long journey and you as the caregiver need to outlast your child's will.

We no longer need bacon to spur our boy to eat many of the other foods on his plate. His second favorite food is now bananas and he would not touch them 2 years ago.

Here are some other resources for other types of food aversions. Like we have stated many times, each child is uniquely challenged and what works for one, may not work for another.

  • Autism and mealtime: A therapist’s top ten tips for success

  • Feeding Problems in Children with Autism

  • Mealtime and Children on the Autism Spectrum: Beyond Picky, Fussy, and Fads

Links to Resources for Food Aversions

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