Many kids on the autism spectrum also have sensory integration dysfunction. This is something I’ll spend more time on, but I’d like to speak about eating difficulties.
You may have already encountered this- your child will only eat certain textures or foods that are only white or only bread products.
Before you say it, yes, many kids have this issue. But it goes deeper for kids with sensory needs, and can cause a whole host of nutritional problems.
For some kids, there are actually links to gastrointestinal distress and eating problems. Before you can decide if something is a sensory problem, you should always rule out medical concerns.
At the conference I recently attended, I heard an Occupational Therapist talk briefly about eating difficulties in kids with sensory integration dysfunction. I’ll admit, it’s kind of a hot topic for us spectrum parents, and something we worry a lot about.
My WonderBoy eats only a few foods: chicken nuggets, peanut butter sandwiches on wheat bread cut diagonally, or a plain bagel toasted with butter, cinnamon and sugar on top.
That’s pretty much it, with only a little bit of variation.
I was reminded by this OT that it’s important to avoid the “food rut” where we let them eat the same thing every single day. Admittedly, this is hard to do when you’re trying to manage multiple kids with multiple needs and you just want to help your kid eat something.
I remembered that “first, then” works really very well with WB. So yesterday I asked him to try something that he wouldn’t normally eat, in order to gain access to the food he really wanted.
Y’all, it worked. Really!
Since yesterday, he’s had four bites of banana, a bite of shrimp, and even BROCCOLI.
Now, our Speedy really loves raw veggies, so we’ve been a bit spoiled with him. I mean, how many 7 year olds actually love asparagus?? Yeah. He does.
So tonight I decided to capture the broccoli moment on film. Please remember that I am never forcing him to eat it, and he absolutely loathed broccoli before this moment: