Autism from a mama who has been there. I am going to try to post every day this month. Please feel free to ask questions in the comments.
Believe it or not, my autistic son was not my pickiest eater, but he was my most consistently finicky eater. If it wasn’t the odor, it was the texture, and heaven forbid if any of the food was touching any other food. We bought plates with separations for all the children so that he wouldn’t feel singled out. But what do you do about a casserole? Allow him to deconstruct it. You deconstruct it. And don’t complain when he eats dinner one grain of rice at a time. At least he is eating.
He had trouble gaining weight. He had a very high metabolism and had relatively few things he was willing to eat. His favorite foods were celery and grapes, green grapes. Go figure.
Our go-to was Ensure Plus. He had one with each meal that he ate at home and took one to school for lunch. Matt drank Half and Half and used it on his cereal. It was his special milk; he called it weight milk because he knew that it was to help him gain weight.
Much to the indignation of the other children, our autistic son was allowed to eat anytime he wanted, but sitting with the family for dinner was a requirement for the whole family. And he was allowed to eat almost anything he wanted. He needed to consume five to seven thousand calories a day.
He hated having dirty or sticky hands. He would eat finger foods with Ziplocks, bread sacks, napkins, and one time he ate BBQ ribs with mittens. It was a mess for me, but he was happy.
We didn’t have much extra money, because my husband was an Air Force Airman and we had four children, but we felt it was vital that all our children learn proper manners while eating out. With our autistic son, this could be particularly tricky. I’m going to share some tips for eating out with an autistic child. And it does get easier with repetition.
We once tried to force our son to eat foil chicken. That was a mistake; we learned quickly. Carrying a screaming child who is yelling at the top of his lungs that we can’t make him eat rat meat out of a restaurant isn’t the best impression to leave with other diners. For years the only thing he would eat at Asian restaurants was white rice. But at least he was polite about it.
We wanted to offer all of our children a wide variety of foods from different cultures. It wasn’t always a success, but they did learn to try new things—even my autistic son.
Celebrate the small stuff. Be flexible. Laugh.