Children with autism can be picky eaters. If you are a parent of such a special child, you should know that you are not alone in your journey to make your child eat healthier. Surveys indicate that children with autism are actually five times more likely to have eating problems. Some of the common food problems include narrow food selection, meal-related tantrum and the like. It is important to expand the diet of a picky eater with autism. This is because it helps reduce diet complications in their body. Here is a look at some of the tips that are effective for supporting a picky eater with autism.
Rule out medical assumptions
Children with autism will clamp their lips when you give them certain foods. Most people make the mistake of assuming mere food rejection instead of relating it to a medical condition. Well, this may happen to be the case when children refuse to take certain foods because they know it will hurt their stomach.
Gastrointestinal distress is actually common in autistic children and sadly, most of them may not know how to easily describe their distresses. In that case, you should check with your child doctor to determine whether your child has gastrointestinal distress. You can also consider autism therapy in Toronto to deal with the matter.
Handle things calmly
You should note that numerous children need to taste a particular food many times before they actually are willing to eat it without any fuss. Seemingly, it is likely to take longer with autistic children. Therefore, you should be more patient and calm when handling your child to allow them enough time to explore and try out new foods. If your child keeps rejecting a particularly type food even after numerous tries, it may be an indication that he simply dislikes it. You may consider other foods. Ensure that your mealtimes do not turn out to be a family battleground.
Use effective tasting steps
It is clear that many autistic children are scared to try out new things especially when it is food. You can help your child explore new foods by working with simple and effective steps such as allowing them to look at the food, touch it and smell it. When your child is ready to taste the food, he will lick it before taking a mouthful bite. In some cases, a mixture of new foods with favorite ones helps reduce the problem.
Working on food texture
Autism leads to hypersensitivity as far as texture is concerned. In that case, you ought to keep in mind that it may simply be how a particular food feels in the mouth that causes food aversion. For instance, a fresh tomato has a squishy feeling that may deter an autistic child. Chopping and blending foods helps get rid of the offensive texture that may cause a negative reaction from your child. In the case of the tomato, you can chop them and cook them into a good paste sauce.
New food play
Playing with food is one of the effective ways that helps build familiarity with a particular food and significantly reduces anxiety during mealtimes. For example, you may try painting with sauce together with your child. You may also make faces on pizza with veggies. Cookie cutters are ideal for cutting sandwiches into fascinating shapes. As you play with foods, let your child see you tasting and enjoying the food.
It is also advisable to use rewards to encourage your child to develop healthy eating behavior. However, you should be very careful with the reward because blatant bribes often tend to backfire. The major goal of rewards is to encourage your child to develop healthy eating habit and appreciate the essence of a well-round diet.