Do you have a child who wants to only eat a few select foods, a self restricted diet? Can you share in a comment below what you do that helps your child? Maybe it will help another child too.
Eating Challenges Common with Autism
Many kids with autism, perhaps up to 75%, have issues related to eating, often a self restricting diet. Like children who do not have autism there may be physical/medical reasons or there may be sensory issues(texture, taste, color, temperature, shape) or food allergies. These concerns are real and must be dealt with so as to ensure your child has a reasonably healthy diet.
I believe there is another issue for kids with ASD, and perhaps others. Typically children on the autism spectrum don’t like surprises. They are able to manage and respond more positively in a predictable environment, where they know what to expect, what’s coming next. Why would this be any different when it comes to eating/meals? Aren’t meals very often a surprise, until we sit down to eat and what might your child do if the meal is not what they thought it would be? And would you know what they thought it would be? You probably would know if they will only eat a limited number of foods and that is what you always present to them.
What they have done is created a predictable environment for themselves so they always know what they will be eating! Aren’t they smart! And when they get tired of this group of foods they switch it up a bit for another undetermined period of time.
As a parent you are very concerned when your child will only eat a few foods and you will often try new foods. But in the end you never run out of their desired foods. In addition, you provide it on demand often because you are concerned about how little they eat! You are supporting and reinforcing their plan!And they know it and like it.
These observations led me to develop a program that would help kids make a wider variety of food choices, their choice. They would still be in control. They would use pictures, chosen and placed on a chart for 6 meals in a day. Now they have a very predictable meal plan for themselves and everyone else to know what they will be eating. It has created a structure that can become part of their daily routine.
They can do this if they are not verbal too. They don’t have to be able to read, write or speak. The only skills needed are to be able to make a choice and match 4 colors. Oh, and it is equally successful with children who are verbal, read and write and for children who are not autistic. It is The Eating Game!