A picky eater is a real challenge for parents, and the highly selective food choices of children with autism mean increased tension at mealtimes.
- Various Techniques That Can Help Someone With Autism During Mealtime
- Experts say the right approach is different for each individual
- They say it’s important not to impose strategies on people
Sharee-Anne Earle’s 13-year-old son Darcy Podsiadlo is on a diet.
But with the help of Perth’s Therapy Focus experts, Earl says he used a variety of techniques to scale this up.
“I used the slow-progressive method. [him to] New foods and putting them on the table,” she said.
“Darcy does not need to eat these foods, but rather to get accustomed to sight and smell.”
Earl said he’s also tried the FODMAP diet, which eliminates foods that cause constipation and bloating.
“Darcy was suffering from severe bloating until we found out that apples have high FODMAP levels. As he’s getting older, he’s recently added three more items to his diet.”
Earl said he is currently implementing Sutter’s division of responsibility in feeding, based on the teachings of US expert Erin Sutter.
The idea behind this method is that parents decide what, when and where to serve food to their children.
The child decides whether to eat and how much to eat.
“I never forced Darcy to finish his meal,” Earl said.
“We’ve always tried to keep eating as a positive experience rather than a negative one.”
Experts say there are things you can do to make it easier for everyone.
Nutritionist Natasha Lane, who has worked with many clients with autism, supports Ms. Sutter’s system, but she warns that it’s not always easy to implement.
“Some people with autism want to be alone after a long, hard day,” she said.
“Even if you’re not expected to eat food, it can be difficult to manage hypersensitivity at the table.
Lane said that strategies for getting people with autism to eat foods they don’t want to eat are different for each individual, and that it’s important to approach them sensitively to the situation.
“Using strategies that do not fit an autistic person or their situation can damage their situation.
“The best strategy for introducing new foods is one that is agreed by the person with autism and overseen by an experienced and appropriately trained neuropositive clinician.”
provide a variety of foods
Senior clinical psychologist Suzanne Midford also recommended Sutter’s approach.
“It’s good to provide structure on the presentation of different foods,” Midford said.
“Forcing a child to eat only adds to the complexity.
“Most children like to eat grass, [the] Presenting both favorite and disliked foods is a good practice and keeps the focus on other disliked foods.
Jessica Della Polina, Senior Occupational Therapist at Allegro Therapy, says people with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) often exhibit repetitive behaviors and restricted interests that can affect their eating habits and food choices. He said it could reach
“You may also be sensitive to the taste, smell, color and texture of food,” she said.
“People who are fussy or fussy can also be caused by gastrointestinal problems.
Other causes include hypersensitivity, a preference for the same food at the same time each day, a focus on how a food looks rather than how it tastes, and a desire to have the food served in the same way.
don’t force things
In her experience, Ms. Polina found that graduated exposure therapy is a strategy that can help people with ASD gradually become accustomed to food and introduce it slowly at mealtimes. He said he understood.
“It is not ideal to force a person to try foods so that they feel in control, rather than forcing them to eat or associating negative consequences with not trying the food.
“Adults can reduce anxiety about attending social events by examining menus before going to social events and, if possible, asking what foods are available at the event.”
Claire Breen, senior nutritionist at Therapy Focus, said there are a variety of strategies a person can use if increasing their dietary intake is a key goal.
“First, it’s important to thoroughly assess your eating and drinking skills,” she said.
“Assessment may include chewing [and] Swallowing skills and self-feeding skills.
“All of this can have a big impact on how people eat and when they eat.”
As to why people with autism refuse certain foods, Kate Upton, a certified practicing dietitian, says there is no set strategy and requires an individualized approach.
“The best strategy is to work with a medical professional to guide the person,” she said.
Some adults may not want to increase their limited diet, she said.
They may be happy to take vitamin and mineral supplements to make up for any deficiencies.
“For others, those who want to help expand their diet, we can help them introduce new foods at a pace they’re comfortable with.
Darcy said his favorite foods were toast, grapes and apples.
But forget about bananas, candy and mashed potatoes.
According to Earle, dinnertime was a frustrating experience for Darcy, but it’s slowly getting better now.