I am at my wits end. My stepson, who is 6 and a high functioning Autistic is so fussy about his food. I know this is fairly common and some Autistic people will only eat Cornflakes etc, but his diet seems to be JUST junk - what any normal 6 yr old would choose to eat over healthy food. I think, to a certain extent, he has it sussed. If you offered any child a plate of vegetables or a plate of chips, they would go the chips. He is only offered food that he likes because he wont eat anything else, so he is happy with his choices.
We only have him for 3 nights every fortnight and it is very hard to try to increase his food intake beyond:
- Chicken Nuggets
- Canned spaghetti
- Fish Fingers
- Sausage Roll
- Sausage (very occasionally)
He does have vitamin supplements but this is not the same as eating fresh vegetables etc. He eats absolutely no vegetables at all. Last night we had a Mexican Standoff because we insisted that he eat a piece of cheese (a soft children's cheese - like Kraft Cheddar, but a different brand). Well! He was complaining that his tongue was going lumpy (because he never eats anything but bland food) and he cried and refused and procrastinated. In the end we made him have 2 more bites (half the cheese triangle)and left it at that.
He looks relatively healthy on the outside, he is prone to winter colds but is not a sickly child, but thats not to say what his arteries and heart look like! I am sure 6 yr olds can have high cholesterol and heart diesease and this junk food might catch up with him oneday.......
I am interested to hear what other mothers with Autistic children feed their children and hear of what foods their kids insist on only eating. How can I try to encourage him to eat healthier foods? I have said to my partner that perhaps we need to all sit down and eat dinner together and encourage him to eat the same meals that we eat (childrens' versions of).
I am desperate for any ideas, or just to hear what your kids eat.
Mom2Six started another thread about this somewhere and I posted some very similar situations about my ds7, who may or may not have PDD (well, that's what the psychs tell us) but definitely has food issues. Hope it helps. If you have any success with OT or other therapies, please share!
I have a 7 yr old who is PDD/AS. We have worked long and hard to get him to eat what he does, and that is still nowhere near what I would like.
Having your stepson only one week out of the month, it is difficult to deal with this. Frankly, I would not make food an issue for the amount of time that he is with you. (And honestly, is that processed cheese that much better than anything else that he's eating?) You may want to speak to mom (or have your dh do it) and see what her stance on food is.
I woudl strongly encourage you to look into sensory issues, as many of the food issues that kids on the spectrum have are actually sensory related. The book The Out of Sync Child is an excelent source for this. I would not force any foods on him, but would try to work up his tolerance extremely slowly. Start out by placing one new thing on a plate of his old favorites. He does not have to taste it, just tolerate it's presence. Keep doing this over and over. Eventually he may decide to taste it himself, but don't ever force it. You also may want to work towards healthier versions of his favorites, but it is a slow and tedius process. Honestly, it may just not be something you choose to work on while he's there, especially if mom is not interested in doing it.
One of therapists told me that it usually takes introducing a new food 100 times before a kid with Autism will try it. 100 times! That's a whole lot! You don't want him to start having food issues, or for food to get in the way of his relationship with his dad, so just go really really slowly and gently.
The sensory issues related to food are very real to these kids. My son can't stand mushy things- they literally make him gag. It's not an issue for me- life goes on even if he never eats applesauce. But don't belittle the way that things feel to him or force what he really isn't comfortable with. That's really not a path that I think you want to go down.
Thanks LookMommy, I tried to find Mom2Six's post as well as yours on diet and food but didnt have any luck. Any more info would help!
Khrisday, I know what you mean about the processed cheese, the idea behind it was for him to eat something else. He had just finished his dinner of Fried Fish Fingers and then wanted something else (packet of chips - or Crisps as I think you would refer to them). He knows full well that he is pushing the boundaries. He is a very switched on kid, and knew that he wouldnt be allowed to have them, he just wanted to try.... So instead, we offered him an Apricot Fruit Bar (which he does eat occasionally), but he didnt want it. So I asked him to try a peice of cheese.
Its difficult. I dont want to be contributing to his unhealthy appetite, nor do I want to be towing the line of his mother's ideals which we may not agree with. She has said that she will focus on his diet once his toileting is going well, and it has improved, but she is busy with a University Degree at the moment and I think its on the back burner.
I will have another go and "making" fish fingers using REAL fish and "making" chicken nuggets using REAL chicken, but he knows the difference......
I think his dietry issues are somewhat sensory, somewhat stubborness - he is a very strong willed child. He is open to trying new foods sometimes, but they only seem to be junky, processed, nutrient-lacking foods. He had a bacon and cheese pizza which he ate most of a couple of months back but I am still not happy with him eating those foods. Occasionally he will have a bite of an apple or a banana - he is capable of eating better foods, just chooses not to.
I will try to encourage a healthier diet. He is happy to have a cup of tea or a coffee (very, very, very weak version) just to be the same as us so I am hoping if I make a mild Spaghetti bolognaise or something he will try it.
At one stage all of the foods that he eats (nuggets etc) were new foods, they haven't taken 100 times of offering them to him. He is more than happy to have a chocolate bar or an ice-cream - anything that he likes, he just avoids anything healthy.
I don't know what it is with the ASD kiddos and junk food... It's a problem a lot of people struggle with. I've seen it time and time and time and time again. Believe me you're not alone. Occupational therapy helps a bit with this, more severe cases you may have to do feeding therapy.
Had a student once who would only eat pizza and fries and coke for lunch. Every. Single. Day.
Honestly about the best thing you can do is never introduce junk food in the first place... If they don't know it exist so much the better.
But since it's too late for that you might have to do something more creative. If you spent some time in occupational therapy sites and read up about sensory related food aversion you may find some good tips
I have lived through this, and we are happily on the other side! At 7, YoungSon ate a similar diet. Then he had a perceived "choking incident" and put himself on a clear liquid diet for about 9 months. Really, for that time, he had apple juice, white grape juice, and homemade broth. He suddenly got over that stage, and then ate popcorn almost exclusively. I was able to get him to take gummy vitamins and drink some milk. He remained quite healthy all those years. Today, he is 18, amazingly healthy, and taller than the men in the family. His diet today is very healthy and balanced. He refuses to eat at fast food places, (although that is more ethical than dietary). I never pushed the food issue at all; somehow he just outgrew it. The only remnant is that he can't stand mushy foods like mashed potatoes or split pea soup.
I am pretty well educated about nutrition, and this goes against everything I have learned. He should not have grown so well, stayed so healthy, or gotten over it with no intervention. I guess the lesson I learned from these years is that we really don't know as much as we think we do.