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Autism - Support Across the Spectrum Autism - Support Across the Spectrum

Such a picky eater, don't know what to do!

Posted by on Aug. 26, 2012 at 11:45 PM
  • 19 Replies

My 7 yr old son has PDD-NOS. I struggle with meals for him, he is the pickest eater I have ever met.

Here is a list of wht he will eat:

Pancakes, PB&J, chicken nuggets, toast, bananas, apples, water, and corn dogs.

I am not kidding this is pretty much all he eats. When he was younger we could get him to at least try all kinds of foods, but for about the last year he won't try anything new. Especially if it is slimy, green or smells weird.

No potatoes whatsoever, no red meat, no turkey, no cheese. I could really use some help on getting him to eat other things. I give him vitamins because I am worried about his health. I just want to be able to make one dinner instead of two. With my 40 hours a week at work, then the normal household stuff I vould really use some ideas!

by on Aug. 26, 2012 at 11:45 PM
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Replies (1-10):
jadelily
by on Aug. 27, 2012 at 12:34 AM
1 mom liked this

My daughter is 15 with pdd-nos, this is pretty similiar to her diet, minus the fruit. She only eats two veggies, pumpkin and sweet potatoes. I used to be really worried about her. She spent several years going to a feeding clinic every week. It didn't help. Our doctor sent her to a nutritionist, who of course was upset about her diet. The dr sent us back to the nutritionist with orders to evaluate her diet for sustainablility, not overall content. The nutritionist begrudgingly admitted there were enough calories and nutrients for her to live on. But that she should take vitamins and try and eat a protein rich bar every day (she can only stand Tigers milk brand.)

It was a pain for years to make her seperate food. Now if we aren't having something she will eat, she will generally cook for herself. Or reheat the foods I make extra for her to have when we don't feel like cooking her something special.

Blue231
by Bronze Member on Aug. 27, 2012 at 1:18 AM
2 moms liked this
Our son has a lot of oral sensory problems. Here are some things that have helped us, but we still have a long ways to go.

Make a chart listing the characteristics of foods your child is able to eat at least a few bites of. Do the foods have similar characteristics? Are they mostly crunchy or smooth? Bland or spicy? What color are they? Can your child handle food mixed together? Once you have a list of characteristics, try to slowly introduce a bite or two of foods that are similar to ones they like. Make sure your child has plenty of the foods they normally will eat on their plate, so they have less anxiety about having to try a bite of the new food. Remember it can take even a NT child fifteen or more exposures to a new food, before their taste buds become accustomed to it. For children on the spectrum it can take much longer. Exposure to even seeing a new food can take time to adjust too. Try allowing your child to help prepare food, even if he isn't eating it, so your child can get used to the sight and smell of it if this seems to help him. Preparing foods may also increase his enthusiasm for trying the food.

Be aware some children with Autism have different senses in their mouths than NT people do. For example, some children need things to be very spicy in order to sense taste. Other children might not be able to tolerate spice at all. Evaluate your child's specifics. My child likes hot sauce with white American cheese for his grilled cheese sandwich instead a traditional grilled cheese.

Also be aware some children with Autism have mouth coordination difficulties. They may need the sensory input of a crunchy food item to be able to adequately sense the food in the mouth and transport it around with the tongue. If I make a grilled cheese on low heat in a skillet, my son has a hard time eating it. If I make it over very high heat in an electric griddle it gets crispier and he can tolerate it.

Smell is another sense that can be effected by Autism and can make it harder for some people on the spectrum to eat. Fresh spices help my child in this department.

Visualization is also a factor. Some people with Autism think in pictures and associate what they see with other images. For years I felt angry my child would not try things mixed together like casseroles. Later he was able to explain to me that when he sees any food mixed together, he is reminded of the image of vomit. Imagine trying to eat something if to you it looked like vomit or some other unpleasant image. A garnish on the side of the plate, however, seems to calm my son. The visual image is pleasing rather than revolting.

Some children with Autism are less effected by oral sensory or visual problems and, therefore, have less of these eating problems. Try to figure out by observation if any of these factors effect your son.

As years go by your child may become less sensitive to these issues due to gradual desensitization to different foods with your help and/or through natural development in the body.

Stress also effects ability to eat. My child tries more foods when he is not too hungry or under too much pressure. Food anxiety, fears of swallowing, and/or eating disorders can be a factor for some kids, as well.

One other thing that may help is using distraction at meal times to take the focus off the food. You can try pleasant conversation, a non-scented center piece on the table, relaxation music, a game, and other ways to take the focus away from the food at dinner time. This cuts down on any anxiety that may be present regarding the food, and your child may then be able to eat more of the food they do not like.

I hope some of this information helps you and your child. I know how challenging the issue can be.
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kgsharber
by on Aug. 27, 2012 at 1:25 AM

 I have found that my kiddos will eat better when they are around other children who are also eating the same thing (muffins @ sunday school, carrots & ranch at school, ect..) so I would send muffins a couple of times to sunday school, and once he was adjusted to the taste I would hidall kinds of veggies & fruit in them. The same with spaghetti sauce, he will not eat it with meat in it, but thats ok because I can hide so many veggies in the sauce.

 

So I guess the approach I would suggest is try to get him to like foods that you can get more bang for your buck. And try to get a little peer pressure in on it!

Mi_Chelly
by Bronze Member on Aug. 27, 2012 at 10:48 AM

Derric's dx is PDD-NOS/Autism with sever hyper tendencies (Don't ask, I am not sure how he has two dxes like that... but *shrug*) and he has a food texture issue. 

When he was first eating solids, we started noticing he loved the Spaghettie jars, but he would spit out the meat. He would refuse to eat any other unless he also had the spaghettie one. 

About 20 months, he would only eat chicken nuggets and spaghettie, breakfast was interesting, he normally would only drink a glass of milk. Actually, if we let him, he would only drink water and milk and not eat. The only way to get him to eat solids was it being chicken nuggets or spaghettie. 

By the time he had his third birthday, he added huney nut cherrios and mac & cheese to his menu. By about three and a half, he was regularly eating top romen too. 

HIs fourth birthday, we were at: spaghettie, chicken nuggets, mac & cheese, huney nut cheerios, and top roman. Still, he prefered water or milk to eating, but he was eating. 

By 5, he added plain white rice. 6, he added pancakes, waffels, mashed potatoes, and shapped pb&js. 

After he turned 8, he added hamburgers, but rarely, as in one every 4 months. 

Now, he is 9, he is asking for hamburgers more often, eats stroganoff with his rice (still eats it plain now and then), eats shake n bake original chicken, mashed potatoes, mac & cheese, top roman, all kinds of cereal (most breakfast foods in general), but his all time favorite is still spaghettie. 

With four kids in the house and my husband never on the same schedule as the rest of us, I learned to just make 3 different meals for each meal time. I have our son's, the other three's, and my husband's. I just buy in bulk what our son eats, and have been teaching him to make it himself, which he really enjoys. So he "cooks" his while I work on everyone else's.....

badgermom2012
by on Aug. 27, 2012 at 10:55 AM

If there's a way to get him into feeding therapy, I'd try that.  My son had S.O.S. feeding therapy from ages 2-3 and now eats a varied diet.  

greenmommo
by on Aug. 27, 2012 at 11:08 AM
You have some wonderful advice above. My ds is very similar on his eating, except he loves every fruit.

He will not eat meats that are harder. I'm not big on processed foods, so I started with Boca original vegan burgers. He loves them-they are much easier to chew and have 19 grams of protein a patty. I cook it to be crispier on the outside and just cut it up and he eats the patty by itself.

I also started getting Kidz Cliff Bars (all organic) for his sister's school snack and he incidentally loved them-helps if it's his sister's item.
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abcdesignstudio
by on Aug. 27, 2012 at 11:17 AM
1 mom liked this

I feel for you and I know what it's like to worry as a Mom about their diet. My pediatritian gave me the best advice and so I am passing this onto you and hope it helps. Whatever you do, never stop introducing your child to vegetables and fruits that he doesn't like now. Keep putting those peas and carrots and potatoes and everything on his plate, even though he always turns up his nose, just keep doing it. No need to force him to try those things, but don't stop feeding him those foods because he refused to eat them in the past because you can't give into a diet of only startch and processed foods or he will become malnourished. When you keep those foods on his plate mixed with foods he likes, he will eventually start eating them over time. Trust me, this works!! You won't see result immediately, but the problem is that parents give up and give in to their childs picky pallets and the parent doesn't realize that the tastes change and the child will eventually grow to like other foods so long as it keeps being presented to the child. Just don't give up. I promise you that this will work with time!

mom-mom10
by on Aug. 27, 2012 at 2:37 PM
My so will only eat different types of bread. I have no idea what to do!
princess_1983
by Bronze Member on Aug. 27, 2012 at 4:58 PM
That's more than my son eats. My son eats hotdogs, cheese, cheetos, cookies and gerber puffs.
lori57703
by on Aug. 27, 2012 at 5:14 PM

 I had a pediatrician tell me that no matter what my son would not starve himself. He advised me to serve whatever I was serving for dinner, present it to him and if he ate great, if not, oh well. I was more flexible with breakfast and lunch because they are not formal meals in our family. I was able to make sure he had stuff he would eat for those meals but dinner was whatever we were eating.

He's 19 years old now and eats very well. He even went to New York with his grandmother and insisted on going to an Ethiopian resturant. He loved it! He also tried Sushi and another foreign food I can't remember.

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