5 Ways to Help a Picky Eater With Autism + Cooking Activity
If you have a picky eater with autism, please know that you are not alone. Do you struggle to get them to eat the food you cook. Do you find yourself getting frustrated at the approaches you take that don’t seem to be helping. Food aversion is very common and feeding therapy is the solution.
Well, take a deep breath, Mama, we understand. We’ve been there. And we are here to help and give you support.
Food aversions are very common and treatable through fun feeding therapy activities.
Just FYI: food aversions are very common in children with autism. A review of scientific studies found that children with autism are five times more likely to have mealtime challenges like: very narrow food selections, eating behaviors that are ritualistic (for instance – them saying no foods can touch), and tantrums that are meal-related.
Some children develop food aversions and here are some things you can do to help both you your child start to enjoy eating meals again.
Help Your Picky Eater
1 – Rule out any medical problems or food allergies. You can have your child tested for the major food allergens and be able to pinpoint which foods are causing discomfort and if your child is indeed food allergic.
2 – Keep yourself calm and relaxed. Children with autism-related sensitivities may need to try a food a lot more than the 10 or more times. You should expect to repeatedly introduce the food to your child.
The calmer you are, the easier it will be to help your child learn to enjoy more foods. Don’t let mealtime become a battleground. You can use your creativity to make it fun with silly voices, lots of laughter, and giggles.
3 – Play with new foods. Playing with your food is fun! And kids love it! If you can bring some playfulness into meal-time, it will really help your child discover new foods and build familiarity with new foods and ease anxiety.
You can try to paint with pasta sauce, or draw in yogurt with your finger, or use cookie cutters to cut fruit and sandwiches into fun shapes. Let your child choose the cookie cutters you use. Most importantly, have fun! 🙂
4 – Offer lots of choices and give your child control. Autism Speaks is currently funding a research project focused on expanding food choices by addressing underlying anxiety, inflexibility and sensory issues. One of the things you can do is offer your child a wide range of choice to give them some control.
Your child may need to feel this freedom in their choices at meal-time to soothe their fears. So put five types of protein and let them choose one, and put out 3 vegetables and let them choose their favorite, and then put 2 fruits and let them pick from those choices. Make it fun by asking your child to add one mystery ingredient to the pot of pasta. Make it fun for them!
5 – Notice textures. Autism oftentimes comes with a hypersensitivity to the textures of some foods. The squishyness of a tomato may be what is causing them to avoid it. Try making it in a different way, chop it fine, or run it through a food processor and see which way your child seems to enjoy best.
Cooking Activities are Helpful
Here is a cooking activity you can do with your child from abletolearn:
Since this blog was all about playfulness – we really hope you’ll sign up for our upcoming CIRCUS workshops, the FUN new way to work on your child’s therapy goals.
The workshop is led by occupational therapist and cirque d’ soliel performer, Lauren . It’s sure to be lots of fun and provide you with valuable information.
Join our mailing list to be the first to hear about workshops.