#Autism and Appetites Pt. 2 — Minor changes that can spark major meltdowns or breakthroughs

When it comes to individuals diagnosed with Autism, they notice “the slightest” difference in something especially the foods they eat and beverages they drink.
I’m noticing that “food packaging and ingredients” are changing and Jr is noticing it and he’s not adapting well.

Chicken bologna does “taste different”, the Oscar Meyer Oven Roasted Turkey Breast has not only changed the outside of the packaging but I’m certain they’ve increased the amount of “caramel color” so much that it makes it taste nasty “in Jr’s words!”

Since you can’t send food that has to be microwaved to school, I’m finding myself running out of options and traveling high and low to accommodate his “Special dietary needs!”

I’m grateful that he’s confident enough and equipped linguistically to articulate in detail his likes, dislikes, needs and wants.

There was a time Jr just wouldn’t eat until he was practically starving and he wouldn’t tell you if he no longer liked something.

Now we can actually discuss options if there are any. It’s rare he’ll humble himself to food though. I can’t blame him because his father and I are the same way. If it doesn’t look or taste right, we don’t eat it “even if we’ve eaten it before!”

Things must be identical and consistent.

I encourage all parents, professionals and advocates to keep a list of the brand names and main ingredients of the food items the individual with Autism ((or an Autism Spectrum Disorder)) likes or highly prefers!

Also pay attention to the packaging. Packaging can be indicative of distribution changes which could be the cause of the food tasting and looking different.

Also I’ve noticed when it’s really hot or really cold his appetite changes. In the summer he’s more prone to eating salads, chicken nuggets, turkey and cheese sandwiches with lettuce and tomato, spaghetti and meat sauce, chicken lo mein and a few other light, yet filling meals.

In the winter, I’ve noticed Jr doesn’t mind eating heavier meals like macaroni and cheese with meatloaf and collard greens, etc.

Try and pay close attention without becoming obsessed or overbearing. For those whose loved ones or clients aren’t severely Autistic work on teaching them to “use their words” to identify with  the foods they like and dislike.

Use the “frustrating incidents” to introduce new foods. I.e., the first time Jr refused to eat I believe it was Spam a few years ago I offered him Chicken Bologna. He liked it and ate it up until a few months ago. He one day told me “Mommy I don’t eat that anymore!” I said ok Jr I won’t buy it for you anymore, no worries.

It made my day even though for a few seconds I was a tad irritated because the pack was fresh! I couldn’t help but think, that little spoiled critter! Lmao oh well on to the next…..

Jr’s experiencing another growth spurt as his eighth birthday is fast approaching, so his needs and wants are changing.

I’m grateful that he longer has a Speech Delay and can verbalize the likes versus dislikes.

Despite him being able to, I still pride myself in being “knowledgeable” of his likes and dislikes so that I can maintain his routine within reason and respect to reality.

It’s difficult. I’m blessed. I can’t imagine going through having to feed Jr through a tube, or him hitting me, or throwing things, or him just crying hysterically etc. Yet these are the trials many other Autism families are faced with daily.

I encourage all of us to remain faithful and persistent. Having grown up with a father who was a Chef, being a food lover and finicky eater, then marrying a Sous Chef I have a wealth of dietary knowledge.

I encourage those who lack the background and knowledge to seek out chefs, especially those who are employed at Hospitals, Schools and Nursing Homes because they’ll teach you about a variety of diets, serving sizes, cooking schedules, how to stretch your meals and more.

Remember my motto: “Autism isn’t a disability, it’s the ability to see and experience the world differently!”