My daughter, Isabel, is a quirky, funny little ray of sunshine. She likes her rules and needs them followed. When the schedule is not followed, she takes it pretty hard. There are times that textures, smells, and tastes are simply the areas of life that she shuts down. It was hard for me to understand at first, but she shuts down on what she can control. It is simply her way of coping with her frustration. My spunky little Isabel is on the high end of the autism spectrum.
We recently completed sessions with an occupational therapist to get help on how to help open Isabel back up to different foods, textures, tastes, and smells. The help we received was a godsend. In a matter of 6 months, we were given lots of tools. As we left our last appointment and I overheard another mother on the brink of tears trying to get these services, I realized that not everyone is so fortunate. We struggled for 3 years to simply get her autism diagnosis and over the course of the last 2 years, we have had to fight to get the therapy we could. But there are people that struggle for much longer.
Here’s a summary of what we received from our therapist at my daughter’s final visit…
- Be persistent. I have not researched it myself, but our therapist told us that it takes up to 10 times of introducing food for a child to really decide whether or not they like it.
- Go slow when moving through tastes and textures.
- There will be foods that kids simply do not like.
- Try your best not to constantly make something else. This will tell your kiddo that the refusal will lead to something like they enjoy.
- Sit down for meals at a dinner table without electronics.
- Have a plan for meals and snacks that are scheduled for natural hunger cues.
- Keep meals and snack times short to not interfere with the next time.
- Vary your meals and snacks. Make sure 1 new food is included a week.
- Start small with new foods.
- Do not give attention to particular behaviors because they will persist.
- Small praises are okay when progress is made.
- Include the kiddo in the preparation of the food or have a conversation about the new food at the dinner table.
- Discuss the food’s properties like the color, temperature, texture, whether it crunches.
- Remember that they are watching you and you want to be sure not to make negative comments about food or behaviors surrounding food.
- Be a good example and try things new too!
- Offer your kiddo a choice between two options.
She also recommended…
The last thing she said to us was that Izzy was now an official Food Adventurer. I immediately started thinking about how she was amazed looking at my passport after I returned from visiting Okinawa. We came home and worked on her very own Food Adventurer Passport.
I’ve included it here in case you would like one too!
I hope you are able to find some little things or references here that may help in the struggle of picky eating with your kiddo. This information has been such a huge help for us.
Prepare, Perform & Praise