Getting Your Asperger Child to Try New Food: As if coping with Aspergers (high functioning autism) wasn't difficult enough, meal times can become the battle of the century trying to get your Aspergers child to eat something, anything. Sometimes, due to their sensory issues, getting a child with Aspergers to eat can make you want to pull your hair out. One day they will eat something, and the next day they scream when it comes near their mouth … not to mention your fears as a mother or father that your child is not getting adequate nutrition.
So what do you do when your Aspergers child becomes a picky eater? Here are a few suggestions:
1. Make a game of trying a food. Have him help you prepare a new food, and then both of you taste it. Or make a food a funny color as a joke, and then eat it.
2. Make your Aspergers child a "menu". Have him choose an appetizer and a main course. Provide him with two choices in each category. Make both appetizer choices foods he does not typically eat. Serve him a very small portion of the appetizer he chooses, start with just one bite. Provide a choice of at least one main course food that he prefers, but tell him appetizer comes before the main course and he needs to choose and eat the appetizer before he will be given the main course. Stress to him that as soon as he tastes the appetizer it will be time for the main dish, and provide a lot of positive reinforcement for eating the appetizer. Try to stick with the same appetizer choices for about a week to allow him to get used to them. If he starts picking the same appetizer on consecutive days, begin increasing the serving size until he is eating a typical amount.
3. One option is to try the same food in another form. If they were unimpressed by the orange slices, provide them with a glass of orange juice.
4. One possible issue is the upset over food touching other food. This can be easily remedied by using divided plates that do not allow contact between areas and therefore, the food remains separated.
5. Outside of meals, try talking to him about new things in general, and how trying new things is sometimes scary – but also lots of fun. You could remind him of things he was scared of initially but now enjoys, and then point out that trying new foods is similar.
6. Won't touch green vegetables? Serve them some V8. Of course, this can become difficult and you can feel like you are running a restaurant if you have other children you are preparing meals for, but like all aspects of the Aspergers world, it takes adjustments. The less you indulge in the food fight the better chance you have of overcoming the issue.
Though coping with Aspergers and picky eating can be a somewhat daunting task, it is essential to keep trying and doing your best as a parent to provide your child with what they need. If you notice a complete lack of certain nutrients or foods in their diet, your best approach may be supplements. Do what you can, and in time it becomes easier and more like second nature. It's a long and gradual process, but stick with it.
The Aspergers Comprehensive Handbook