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Thursday, November 06, 2008

Picky eaters, and then some!

Picky Eaters Club

Many parents share a common goal, something along the lines of, 'please let my child reach the age of majority and live a happy healthy life.'

Others, more ambitious parents, a few of them, focus on the "details."

"Food and fun"

If ever there were two words that don’t go together, then these two would be my first choice. I should have the picky eater logo tattooed on my forehead. I swear I have read every book ever published on the subject, or if not ‘swear’ as I have a tendency to exaggerate, then certainly a great many.

You see I am the mother of a neophobe, a person who eats less than 20 foods.

What does this mean?

Well……when did you last see a child [or adult?] who had a meltdown at the prospect of eating an ice-cream, or a chocolate chip cookie, or chocolate or candy……? Do those children exist? Yes, they surely do.

The first step towards helping your child expand their diet is to relinquish control. Control must be passed to the child without reservations, although hesitation and doubt is permitted.

The second step in any successful de-sensitization plan is to extinguish the connection between ‘food’ and ‘eating.’ This is where ‘food is fun’ comes into it’s own.

For many people ‘food’ is fearful because it has to be eaten. Therefore, if you do not have to eat it, there is the possibility of extracting fun. Once fun has been extracted, by fair means or foul, food is no longer the enemy. When food is no longer the enemy there is the hopeful possibility that additional consumption might become a reality.

I can see ‘doubt’ writ large, but I can promise you that this approach will help make meal times less traumatic. There may not be very much more eating, but less trauma is definitely worth fighting for.

So where to start?

This will depend upon your child and you are the one that knows them best.

I can catalogue an endless campaign of ways to play with your food, some that will be familiar and others that are a little more obscure, but the ability to touch the food with hands should never be under-estimated. The inability to hold a utensil can be put on the back burner.

Bear in mind that the food, whichever you choose, may look horrible, smell disgusting, feel abhorrent and sound revolting when it is cut or squished. This is because food involves ALL of our senses.

I could write more, several volumes in fact, but I shall leave you with a selection of photographs that suggest a few of the endless possibilities available to us and our children, on their journey to accepting that food is our friend and starvation must be staved.

First we learn to tolerate touching the food.

Although some are easier than others.

We have a jello theme here = dino rescue!

No it's not a disgusting vegetable it's a toothbrush.

It's one thing to touch it with a finger, quite another to hold it..... count to three before you chuck it!

It's the basic principle that counts.

It's one thing to hold jello, quite another to hold a genuine vegetable but we will generalize or bust.

Practice with something safe.

Is this real? No there's Nutella smeared on the other side, but we still make contact!

Apple bobbing in Lemonade, might just take the edge off.

Ultimate control, every neophobe should have at least one. This was probably the hardest step for me and the most important one for him because it gave him real control. A designated 'spit' bowl means that once the food is in his mouth, he is able to reject it. No-one will force him to swallow. The inside of our mouths, surely the most sensitive area, where a mouth ulcer the size of a pin head feels like an unexploded bomb. That first assault on those thousands of receptors is a challenge of taste, texture and temperature with every new food. With continued exposure, repetition, the new food loses it status as new, becomes more familiar and may eventually be eaten.

From 3 to 17 foods in four years.............

.........desensitization is a work in progress, the trick is to make the 'work' fun!


My good pal "Kristina" from "Autism Vox" suggested we pass this on to any interested parties...........

Hi "Kristina,"

This is Josh Levy, Managing Editor of "Change.org," a social action blog network that just launched more than 12 blogs last month covering issues such as global warming, homelessness, and genocide. (You can see the full list here: "www.change.org"/causes).

I wanted to get in touch because we're preparing to launch an autism blog next month and I was hoping you might know of someone that would be good for the position.

We're looking for someone who is knowledgeable, passionate about the issue, and who can blog like a pro. The position is part-time and paid ($1000/mo).

I've pasted a job description below. I'd really appreciate it if you would consider forwarding it to anyone you think might be interested. We'd also love it if you would consider posting a short announcement on your blog; we're trying to reach out to as many people in the autism activism community as possible and I'm hoping this is something your readers might be interested in.

Thanks so much for the help!

Josh Levy
Managing Editor

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