Many Hats Mommy

live the Power of One


4 Comments

Picky Eaters & Sensory Issues

Last week we had a different article on picky eaters. Here are a few more tips, sent courtesy of the fine folks at Future Horizons!

Autism Asperger’s Digest                March-April 2011 issue

Column: Sensory Smarts                  www.autismdigest.com

Happy Mouths, Happy Meals

Sensory Problems Usually Are the Problem with Difficult Eaters

Dear Sensory Smarts,

My five-year-old is such a picky eater! There are only a few foods she’ll eat: pasta, pizza, and ice cream. She wants to eat macaroni n’ cheese almost every meal, but it has to be one particular brand. If the store is out, she will not eat another brand. My parents and in-laws think it’s because I spoil her. They all say I should serve her what everyone else is having and if she doesn’t eat, then tough. I did try it once and she simply did not eat. Help!

From,

Mac n’ Cheese Maven’s Mom

Dear Maven’s Mom,

Kids with oral sensory issues and food aversions will not eat foods they find repulsive and may wind up with nutritional deficiencies. Your child did not become an extremely selective eater because of something you did. It may help to consider the underlying factors that may be impacting your child’s inability to tolerate a wider variety of foods.

Oral Sensory Problems

Kids with sensory challenges, especially those on the autism spectrum, often have sensory issues in and around the mouth. Remember that the lips, tongue, inside cheeks, and throat are lined with skin. A child may be exquisitely sensitive to textures, and unable to tolerate foods that are lumpy, slippery, chewy, crunchy, or a combination of textures, like yogurt with granola. Some kids are particular about flavors, and may only eat foods that are bland, sweet, or even highly spiced. Some kids are particular about temperatures and insist on or refuse foods that are cold, hot, or lukewarm. Some kids stuff their mouths to feel there’s something in there. Other kids object to the way food looks or when items touch each other on a plate.

Some problem feeders have oral-motor weakness, and lack strength and stability in the lips, tongue, and jaw for nursing and later for eating solid foods. Jaw weakness makes chewing difficult while tongue weakness makes it hard to form a bolus (round food mass) to swallow. High or low muscle tone in the mouth can also be an issue. A child may have a hyperactive gag reflex and avoids eating and gagging. At its most extreme, a child may throw up when an offending food is tasted, smelled, or simply mentioned.

Most kids on the spectrum crave predictability. Your daughter may insist on exactly the same brand of mac n’ cheese cooked exactly the same way as a form of control in a world that sometimes feels out of control. If she has successfully eaten that one type of mac n’ cheese in the past, it’s got to be the very same kind in the future.

It sounds like your daughter sticks to “the white diet,” consisting of carbs and cheese, a common diet among kids with sensory issues. These foods are relatively soft and have an easy “mouth feel.” Unfortunately, these foods consist of gluten and dairy, which many kids with autism do not tolerate well. Gluten is the main protein in wheat and other grains and casein is a protein in cheese and other dairy products. The theory is that these proteins trigger immune responses in some kids, resulting in a pleasurable, druglike response. Gluten and casein sensitivities are worth exploring with a nutritionist or allergist.

When a child has a significantly limited food repertoire, do not withhold the few foods that are acceptable. If you take away that one brand of mac n’ cheese, you’re taking away one of the few sources of nutrition for your child, even if it is a poor one. Pizza can be healthy if you buy or make it with high-quality ingredients.

I start by identifying one food the parent would like to add to a child’s diet, typically a fruit or vegetable. If possible, the child selects the particular fruit or vegetable.

Find more on eating difficulties and other sensory challenges in Raising a Sensory Smart Child and at sensorysmarts.com. You may also want to check out these books: Just Take a Bite (by Lori Ernsperger, available in bookstores and online) and Happy Mealtimes with Happy Kids (by Melanie Potock, available at MyMunchBug.com).

Got a question? I’d love to hear from you. Please email questions to Lindsey@sensorysmarts.com.

Advertisements


1 Comment

Picky Eater? Here Are Some Tips!

Thanks to Future Horizons for providing us with this article about helping our picky eaters.

Autism Asperger’s Digest, March-April 2011 issue

Column: Sensory Smarts                  www.AutismDigest.com

 

How To Diversify a Diet When A Child Has a

Significantly Limited Food Repertoire

Do not withhold the few foods that are acceptable. If you take away that one brand of mac n’ cheese, you’re taking away one of the few sources of nutrition for your child, even if it is a poor one. Pizza can be healthy if you buy or make it with high-quality ingredients.

I start by identifying one food the parent would like to add to a child’s diet, typically a fruit or vegetable. If possible, the child selects the particular fruit or vegetable. Continue reading


4 Comments

Get More Ideas for Picky Eaters!

Faithful MHM readers, I am very excited to share a link with you today! One of my guests, Deanne, left a comment on this post about food victories and said she would share with us after she attended an eating strategies seminar! Well, Deanne has ventured forth and returned, and has written about it on her blog. You can click here to glean great suggestions from experts to help you get the right foods into your kiddos!


25 Comments

Blueberry Bliss

Dr. J ate four blueberries a couple nights ago. FOUR BLUEBERRIES! Do you hear me!?! Some of you may be looking at my bolded italic capital letters and think, “What is she so excited about?” Others of you are reading those letters and smiling, maybe even laughing, understanding exactly why those letters are bolded and italicized!

You see, among Dr. J’s issues are food sensitivities. Some of it is texture related. For Dr. J, eating a blueberry is about as brave as a junior high boy changing in the varsity locker room! (maybe Dr. J is braver…) Earlier in the week at bedtime, I asked him to eat one. Just one. He was very hesitant, but he complied. You could tell the moment the blueberry exploded in his mouth by the grimace on his face. Poor kid. I felt like I was torturing him!

Then in the morning I simply put a blueberry in the bowl with his other fresh fruit (yes, he is eating strawberries!). I had been reminded by a reader comment on this post that having the food stay on the plate, not necessarily eaten, is often a first step for an autist food victory. He didn’t eat it, but didn’t meltdown, either.

That evening I put a single blueberry in with the other fruit again. He yelled to me from the living room, “Mom! I ate my blueberry!” I almost dropped whatever I was working on in the kitchen. I made the biggest deal over that little blueberry!

As the practice progressed, one night after bed Dr. J was quite hungry. I had already offered him strawberries and he declined. So when he asked for them, I had to tell him they were all gone. I had eaten them because he told me he didn’t want any. “Well, can I have four blueberries?”

“Four blueberries?”

“Yes, and five cantaloupe and some grapes.”

You better believe I made that quirky fruit salad with the specific number of each fruit! And he ate all four blueberries. He ate them last, but eat them he did! And this mommy was ecstatic.

Welcome to a new summer series on Many Hats Mommy–“Growing up with Autism.” I have invited guests to share success stories: times their children have shown great maturity in being “grown up” by facing their fears, or working hard to make progress, or whatever triumph they’d like to share. I hope you enjoy the series! I know I’m going to. You might even want to subscribe via email (top right) so you don’t miss any of the fantastic stories!