Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Picky Eaters & New Food

Lady is very consistent and predictable. Which is exactly the way she wants her food to be. So, new foods are a challenge. Any transition or change for an autistic is a challenge. Heck, I can be pretty challenged myself by new situations! So, no one is alone in trying to cope with change.

But as far as food goes, I found a trick to get her to attempt new tastes. I learned this from my friend, Michelle, whose son is also on the spectrum. Bless you, Michelle, for sharing this with me.

Take broccoli. This is a true story. We put broccoli on her plate every night for a month. Not the same piece, sheesh. But at first, she squawked about even looking at the broccoli. So we said she just had to keep in on her plate for now. A few days of that, then we made her just touch the broccoli on her plate every night. Some more days and now she has to pick up the broccoli and touch it to her lips. Don't taste it! Just to the lips. You see the pattern, just a few days of the same action until she is comfortable with that action, then move her forward. A few days of lips, then a few days of tasting it with her tongue and spitting it back on her plate. When the month was done, she was able to chew it and keep it in her mouth. We are still working on swallowing, though. She'll chew that same piece of broccoli for a half hour sometimes. Just swallow, Lady! She eventually gets past it and it goes down the hatch. But it is still a struggle for her.

This technique of getting used to the food has come in really handy. Just last week, mushrooms. "Mom! I like mushrooms!" And last night, "Mom, I like pineapple!" A whole new world of flavor (and nutrition) is gradually showing up in my Lady's life. Predictability is still her thing, though. I know that if I serve vanilla ice cream with rainbow sprinkles forever and ever, I will be the winner forever and ever. Some things will probably never change. And in some ways, I hope they never do.