“What your child on the autism spectrum eats has a significant impact on the following:
– Their overall sense of well-being.
– Their behavior.
– Their ability to engage with other people and the world around them.
“Implementing a special autism diet with your child could support them in these areas.
Here are two tips when inspiring your child to eat new foods from the Autism Treatment Center of America and The Son-Rise Program:
“Make food fun.
“You may notice that when you have fun, you’re more relaxed and adventurous, and things become more accessible. It’s no different for your child. This is why you might hear more language from your child or feel a stronger connection with your child when you play a game that they love. The more fun your child has, the more they will be willing to try new foods. Make food fun by thinking of some things that your child enjoys. See if you can incorporate those things into promoting new foods.
“For example: If your child loves Peppa Pig, have a picnic for Peppa Pig. Lay a blanket on the floor and invite some stuffed animals along. Put down some paper plates and napkins for everyone. Serve different new foods on the plates for each guest. Use fun character voices and have the guests pretend to eat each food animatedly. If your child enjoys watching the guests enjoy their food, try offering some food to your child too.
“Give control around food.
“Your child on the autism spectrum often experiences the world as haphazard and unpredictable. To make sense of the world, they thrive on predictability. This can include being very selective about their foods and how they eat. It’s imperative that you don’t push or force your child to eat new foods. You want to make the experience of exploring new foods relaxing and inviting for your child. Do this by giving your child more control over the new food. Do this by respecting and responding to their ‘no’s’ and allowing your child to explore the foods in their way and on their timeline.
“For example: If your child pushes the food away at first, say, ‘Oh, thank you for showing me no. You’ve got it!’ and then try again later. Maintain a relaxed and welcoming attitude if your child wants to smush the food, walk around while eating, or spit food out. When you push, your child may resist. When you give control, it’s way more inviting for your child to continue moving toward the new food.”
Becky Damgaard, Senior Son-Rise Program Teacher