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Feeding a Finicky Autistic Child

The week of September 20 is Autism Awareness Week at DietsInReview.com.

jackGuest blogger Jean is a mom to three young sons, one of whom is on the autism spectrum. She has spent many years trying to find ways to entice her autistic son to eat healthy food. She writes about her life and her kids on her blog, Stimeyland.

“C’mon, Jack, just take one bite. Please?”

You hear this a lot at my house. Jack is my autistic son, and he does not care for new food. Nor does he care for familiar food, especially if it is a fruit or vegetable. He has about 15 foods he will happily eat, and he is usually unwilling to stray outside that list.

We’ve tried many things to get him to eat: Fruit in smoothies! Vegetables hidden in spaghetti sauce! Raisins hidden in cookies! But he just takes one tiny sip of the smoothie and walks off. He cleans the sauce off of his pasta with his cup of milk. And if he finds a raisin in his cookie, he will spit it out. In fact, he’s started to avoid cookies because of the unwelcome surprises he’s found in them.

All of this has left me with a need to be even more creative in getting nutritious food into him. I’ve gone so far as to make him brownies stuffed with spinach, (which he actually fell for).

So how do I get him to eat healthily? Vitamins, for one thing. If he won’t eat his nutrients, at least I can give him some in pill form. Age has helped. As he gets older, he has become more willing to take (teensy, weensy) bites of healthy food. I also offer him things that I wouldn’t expect him to like. For instance, he loves cottage cheese. I never would have guessed.

I still only make one dinner and he knows that he eats it or goes hungry. So sometimes incentives help. He’ll often try one bite of a new food if we offer him another dinner roll as a reward. Fortunately, those rolls are whole-wheat! I figure the more bites he takes, the more likely he is to one day take a second bite.

I don’t know that there is a good answer to finicky autistic children. Consulting a nutritionist is always a good idea, but what I’ve found is that we just have to try, try, and try again.

September 24th, 2009

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