Written by Kate O’Donnell
“HERE COMES THE AEROPLANE…OKAY, THE TRUCK… THE MERMAID? JUST EAT IT!!!!”
– Parents Globally
Sensory sensitivities can involve taste and smell.
So when it comes to food, sometimes there can be little hurdles and sometimes epic ones. Often it comes back to the texture of the food in the mouth, which can create a gag reflex and vomiting. Sometimes eating food can even become a trigger, as I mentioned earlier.
Given that food is both necessary for nourishment and life, this is an important one to try and overcome if you can. Food is also a very social event these days, so you have this impact as well.
In our house, planning meals for a family of four felt like preparing three different meals for a royal family. One person eats only soft food, the other only likes crunchy and don’t even think about mixing anything, or it’s over before it begins.
We can finally laugh now about the times we sat with Mister in his toy car to eat.
The number of times we have watched and played games on the iPad just so we could spoon-feed with distraction.!
And yes I can hear the criticism, but when the other option is a feeding tube in hospital you don’t question the iPad! Sometimes you have to do what works. At times it felt mealtimes were like the story Green Eggs and Ham by Doctor Seuss…
“Would you on a train, would you could you in a boat… and a whole lot of not in a boat, not with a goat, I will not eat there here nor there, I will not eat them anywhere. I will not eat them, Sam, I am I DO NOT LIKE GREEN EGGS AND HAM!” Insert tired, stressed parents, nutritional deficits and loads of worry.
Distractions are good, enticement, a reward system with the passion factor being used again.
Trying to source some choices that can fit into your child’s likes, whether that is smell, texture, shape or colour. Go gently when introducing anything new, remember to use stories and habits.
Never stop offering new foods.
Food time should never become about a parent becoming angry or trying to ‘make’ the child eats. This is a sure path to disaster.
And again you may be faced with comments from those gorgeous helpful ‘others’ like: “Picky eater, fussy, choosey, spoilt… just make them eat it… they need to learn…back in my day…if they are hungry they’ll eat…” NO! Planet Spectrum doesn’t work this way!
Please know that if food/eating is an issue for your child, you are not alone. Our family worked with the OT and speech pathologist… There are thirty- two steps to eating…Who knew?!
We worked on playing with food, sensory issues, no stress at mealtimes, modelling, and the importance of still offering a variety of foods.
There are so many different areas to eating and food that your OT and speech pathologist can work on with you. Please refer to the resource section for helpful links.
TIP – If you are experiencing difficulty with your child’s eating, limited food choices and mealtime disarray- you need to seek help from your OT and speech pathologist. This is their area of expertise!
For more information about the world of Autism CLICK HERE.
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