There are many articles on how to help children with autism who are picky eaters with many wonderful strategies
that may or may not work with your child, studies report children with autism are five times more likely to have meal time challenges, ritualistic eating behaviours, narrow food selection amongst many other issues. My son fell right in the middle of this scientific study, not that I needed one to tell me children with Autism are picky eaters, money could have been much better spent on programs, that is another blog.
For the longest time Niam ate only grilled cheese sandwiches, cheese pizza, french fries, pasta, a handful of fruits, no vegetables and all the yummy desserts you could possibly imagine. My struggle with food led me to write this quite humorous blog, Niam Is In Love With Miss World, be sure to check it out, I am sure many of you can relate.
While I love reading all the tips to over come meal time challenges, I wanted to share with you a real life experience, by an autism parent that worked, it was something that I fell into, luck was on my side and Niam started eating foods. Don’t get excited its not a magic pill, wish it was one I could mail to all you, I was working on a cooking project, video modelling to teach youths with autism how to cook, my video-o-graphers would give Niam the food to try, I used to watch and chuckle as he would say “no”, push it away, sometimes throw it on the floor and be adamant this strange looking and smelling food was coming no where near his mouth or his fingers. This proceeded for a year. The videographers were committed and rose to the challenge, I kept telling them its never going to happen, a bet I happily lost and paid out.
During that time, we needed guinea pigs to try out our cooking videos, and of course, we used Niam, he was free, call it child labour if you like, anyways, Niam started touching the food, smelling it learning where items were in the kitchen, when I think back, the goal was not to teach Niam to cook to be independent or to get him to taste the foods, we were too focused on where his eyes were on the video, was he able to follow it, were the pictures big enough, not realizing the life changing impact it was having on him.
We were on Christmas vacation, sitting in the restaurant, and Niam looks at my dish and says ” Try it” and he tried it, I was so excited, I started video taping him trying food, swallowing it, posting it and, parents were commenting!
How can you teach your child to try different foods, a practical advice that may work, don’t think about it, have your child around different foods, have them cook with you, learn to cut, make it fun, you don’t have to carve out a special time, just include your child when your cooking any of your meals. Make it fun, no pressure to master goals, a family fun time where everything your child does or does not do is great. I can’t promise it will happen, but it just may, and you will be floored like me.