Children with autism often have sensory issues that can make it difficult for them to tolerate certain textures, tastes, smells, and colors of food. This can result in a limited diet, which may not provide all the necessary nutrients for their growth and development. When Justin was small it seemed like all he wanted to eat was McDonald’s chicken nuggets and French fries. Even though he is a professional chef now if given the choice he will still choose McDonald’s.
One approach that may help is to gradually introduce new foods in a systematic way, starting with small amounts and gradually increasing the quantity over time. This can help the child become more comfortable with different textures and tastes. It is important to be patient and not force the child to eat something they are not ready for.we all grew up in a clean your plate environment but we never made Justin eat anything he didn’t want to. We let him try a bite and if he didn’t like it we taught him to spit it out discreetly in a napkin. By allowing him to do this he wasn’t scared to try new foods.
As he got to be a teenager he was willing to try new things more often. Offering a variety of foods in different textures and flavors can also provide a range of sensory experiences. For example, crunchy foods like carrots or apples can provide a different sensory experience than soft foods like mashed potatoes. Experimenting with different cooking methods, such as baking, grilling, or steaming, can also change the texture of foods and make them more appealing to the child.It may also be helpful to involve the child in food preparation and cooking.Justin loves cooking. His grandmother Beth started him off as a small child in the kitchen. This can help them become more comfortable with different textures and smells. They can help wash and chop vegetables or measure ingredients, which can also improve their fine motor skills. Cooking helps them learn to read and do math. It also teaches them responsibility.
It is important to work with a qualified healthcare professional, such as a registered dietitian or occupational therapist, who can provide personalized guidance and support. They can help identify any nutritional deficiencies and develop a plan to address them. They can also provide strategies to manage any behavioral or sensory issues that may arise during mealtime.
In conclusion, helping children with autism get past texture issues with food can be challenging, but it is possible with patience, persistence, and the right support. Gradually introducing new foods, offering a variety of textures and flavors, involving the child in food preparation, and working with a qualified healthcare professional can all be effective strategies. By expanding their diet and improving their nutrition, children with autism can thrive and reach their full potential.