"No one really knows why so many children with autism are picky eaters," says Kimberly Kroeger-Geoppinger, an assistant pediatrics professor at the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center. "But there's no doubt that it's a common phenomenon. That means that parents' permissiveness is probably not the cause." Kroeger says there are several possible reasons for autistic children's pickiness. "We know that children with autism tend to select down, eliminating one food from their diet at a time. The reasons could be sensory (a new discomfort with a particular smell, taste or feel), or even a randomly developed routine."
This is becoming more & more frustrating as I see my son basically eating bread all day long & getting no nutritional value into his body. He does take children's vitamins each day to help combat his lack of a balanced diet, but I just don't think it's enough.
Here is what Ethan' typically eats at each meal:
Breakfast - Bacon (always) with cereal or Pop-tart. He does enjoy pancakes & cinnamon rolls as well.
Lunch - Chicken nuggets, fries/chips, & fruit snacks
Dinner - Popcorn or pizza or chicken nuggets & fries/chips
Snacks - Goldfish, animal crackers, sugary cereal bars
That's it. I have tried & tried to get him to eat different things, but he would just refuse to eat. At that point, I became so desperate that I just wanted him to eat ANYTHING! Well, for the past month, I have started putting a new food on Ethan's plate even though he wasn't eating it. I would encourage him to take a bit, but he would usually just put it up to his lips for a lick & then say "All done." However, in the past week, Ethan has started eating a banana (cut up with toothpicks in them...he doesn't like the feel of the banana) as well as natural applesauce. He will also eat a few bites of the dinner that Corey & I were eating if I chopped it all up, mixed it together & smothered it with ketchup. I'm not really sure how healthy that is, but he was definitely getting a variety of foods that way.
So, realizing that I needed help in this area, I talked to my husband about this issue. He & Ethan have pretty much the same likes & dislikes as far as food goes, so I "interviewed" my husband to see what kinds of fruits, vegetables, protein, and dairy foods he enjoys. The list is short, but I feel like it's a good place to start. So....here is my new plan.
Corey & I went to the grocery store last night. Grandma Linda asked to take Ethan on a date, so we thought this would be the perfect chance to go & browse for some Ethan groceries. These are several of the things that we bought. Some of them are to replace his existing foods. Oatmeal to Go is going to replace his breakfast Pop-Tarts. He has eaten these at my sister's house, so I think that switch should go smoothly. We also bought some additional fruit for me to put on toothpicks. These are fruits that Corey likes, so I'm hoping Ethan will like them too. Yes, some of them are in heavy syrup, but my opinion is that is better than no fruit at all. We bought some other things to try....smoothies, yogurt...to increase his protein intake. And since Ethan LOVES to drink, I bought V8's drink that contains fruits & veggies.
Not pictured: I bought pretzels to replace his chips, stuff to make grilled cheese (I'm hoping to make them look similar to the french toast sticks), and fruit snacks where the 1st ingredient listed isn't 'corn syrup'. I also already have apples, grapes & strawberries that I will be trying on a toothpick. We also bought canned corn & canned peas. Corey says these are the only veggies that he himself likes....I still count them as breads, but I'm willing to try it. We bought canned instead of frozen because we thought the smell/taste wouldn't be as strong. Plus, Ethan loves salty stuff & canned has a lot of salt.
So, we have lots of new things to try. The plan is to switch the old food with a similar new food....a little bit at a time. I'm hoping that some things he likes right away while others he will tolerant just licking. The goal is to help Ethan have a well-rounded diet, so hopefully he will like SOMETHING! I honestly am still THRILLED that he has eaten 2 bananas this week!!! THAT IS HUGE!!!! WOO-HOO!!!
|Ethan all dressed up for his date with Grandma! She took him to Wendy's (his new favorite place) & Menard's.|
|Ethan & Grandma Linda...ready for their date!!!|