Family mealtimes can be difficult. There’s always someone who doesn’t like something you put on the plate.Perhaps you decide to do a different meal for each member of your family depending on their likes and dislikes.Maybe you have a child who will only eat white food, like mashed potato, chicken and cauliflower.
Or, your child will only eat the same food every night, as long as nothing on the plate touches. Heaven forbid if a pea accidentally rolls over and touches a carrot! Children with autism can often be fussy or selective eaters. They can have sensitivities to taste, touch and smell that can affect the way they eat.
Parents often feel guilty with thoughts that their child isn’t getting the right amount of nutrients or eating enough fruit and vegetables. If that sounds like you, please don’t feel guilty. You can’t force your child to eat anything they don’t want to. All you can do is provide food and they will choose if they eat it or not.
This concept is known at the ‘Division of Responsibility.’ Author Ellyn Satter describes the division of responsibility as: you decide what, when and where to provide the food while your child will decide how much and if they will eat what has been provided to them.
That said if you prepare the meal, and place it on the table, you can of course cater to their likes and dislikes, you can serve a meal with everything separated on the plate, but it is left to the child to decide what they want to eat.
You can always try to introduce new things. Maybe even try hiding vegetables in spaghetti sauce or home-made hamburgers. Trust me, I’ve tried everything. Sometimes it works, other times they sniff it out like they are a trained sniffer dog!!
No doubt it’s challenging, and sometimes it can be quite comical! Persevere, but don’t feel guilty if things fail. If you become worried you can always seek help and advice from professionals such as paediatricians, speech pathologists or occupational therapists. Sometimes there can be more to food issues than meets the eye.
The quirks of autism will always keep you on your toes. There is never a dull moment with an autism child.
SASI Parent Blogger