Autism Awareness Month: The Diet Challenges Of Children On The Spectrum

All kids can be picky eaters at one point or another, they want sweets over vegetables or don’t like pasta. On the other hand, parents of children on the spectrum know this is an understatement of their child’s eating habits and face daily challenges just getting their kids to eat.


Causes of Feeding Problems

There is an array of reasons a child on the spectrum won’t eat certain foods or refuses altogether. Some reasons include:

  • Oral Motor Skills – A child may have a jaw weakness that may prevent them from chewing his/her food. It can prevent proper chewing and processing of food.
    Behavioral/Rigidity – Some kids with ASD have a form of OCD and get set in their ways when it comes to what they like to eat. This makes it difficult to introduce new foods or balance their diet.
    Sensory Issues – If this is the case, they may avoid foods based on the smell, color, texture or even temperature.
    Digestive Problems – If something causes stomach aches or acid reflux, a child may avoid it. By going to a gastroenterologist, parents can rule out digestive issues.
    Lack of Self-Awareness – Some kids will over-eat or under-eat. They may eat until they vomit or eat a few things and stop not realizing they are still hungry.

My Own Challenges

I have two children on the spectrum and both have different issues when it comes to eating.

Leo – He is very sensory based and rigid when it comes to his eating. He smells everything he eats, even if it’s something he has had before. He can smell things I can’t even smell and we (our pediatrician and myself) believe he may have a higher sense of smell. For example, we made pancakes the other morning for breakfast and this time we added in a hint of cinnamon. The second we put the pancakes down in front of him, he started crying saying he didn’t like them. We took the plate back and added a plain pancake under the original. He literally took the top pancake off saying he didn’t like it and began eating the plain one. Also, he gets stuck in his way of having the same thing over and over again because it’s “safe,” he knows he likes it.

Lexi – She is behavioral, rigid and lacks some self awareness. We can trick her into eating something as long as she doesn’t know. One example, she will drink the kids Danimals yogurt but won’t eat a regular Yoplait yogurt. However, if I put the regular yogurt in the Danimals container, she will eat it. Just like Leo, she gets stuck in the habit of wanting the same things over and over again. Now with her lack of self awareness, we have to make sure she doesn’t just eat chicken nuggets all day long. She could have that for breakfast, lunch, and dinner – no problems. Obviously that isn’t a great diet, so we have to tell her no and deal with a bit of a crying fit before she will accept something else.

Their diet is limited because of these issues and we try to balance it out as best we can with supplements. But the list of foods they will eat is pretty short for kids their age

Breakfast

  • Eggs
  • Pancakes

Lunch/Dinner

  • Chicken Nuggets (Only Chick-fil-A or Dino Nuggets)
  • Danimals Yogurt
  • Nutella Sandwich (we are working on PBJ)
  • Plain noodles
  • Mac n Cheese

Snacks/Treats

  • Apples, bananas and strawberries (so thankful for this!)
  • Muffins (only chocolate)
  • Cookies (only chocolate or peanut butter)
  • White rice
  • Chips (only plain or cheese)
  • Ice cream (vanilla or chocolate)
  • Cake pops (they each have a specific one)
  • Popcorn
  • Goldfish/Graham Crackers

This is a Complete list of what they will eat!


A Few Helpful Tips

    Keep mealtimes calm and stress-free.
    Set a routine for mealtimes.
    Create a visual plan around mealtime.
    Teach rules about serving sizes.
    Look for signs of food intolerances.
    Look into supplements to fill in the gaps.


Well, I hope y’all enjoying reading through my own experience and tips. If this was new information, then I hope it helps you understand other that deal with this daily.

Thank you so much! Please feel free to post your comments or questions below!

Cloe 💋

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Autism Awareness Month: Long Term EEG

For those of you who have children that are on the spectrum or know someone with autism, then you know the struggles and challenges that come with it. For those of you that don’t know or want to know more, I’m going to give you a sneak peak into our life and some of the things we experience.


What is a Long Term EEG?

My middle child, Lexi, was scheduled for a long term EEG this week. Long-term electroencephalographic monitoring (LTM) is used most frequently in the diagnosis and management of seizures and “spells,” but has also gained wider application in the evaluation of sleep disorders, cerebrovascular disease, psychiatric conditions, and movement disorders. 

We were scheduled for a 48 hour LTM to rule out brain seizures since Lexi has staring or dazing spells. She can zone out for a few minutes and only physical touch will bring her out of it.


The Prep and Setup

We were scheduled for 1pm on Wednesday at CHOC in Mission Viejo. As we arrived, we are greeted and shown to our room on the Pediatric floor. Lexi was enjoying all the attention up until we walked into our room and saw the hospital bed; that’s when she sat on the floor pouting. Took a bit to get all her vitals and finally get her onto the bed. That’s when the technician came in to hook her up to the machine. We put a movie on and had her lay down so the tech could start working. It took 1.5 hours to get all the electrodes attached but surprisingly she did well. Once attached and wrapped to secure in place, we are giving all the instructions for our stay and I was given a tour of the rest of the floor.

Lexi as we arrived at the hospital

Finally all attached and wrapped


Making it Through the 48 Hours

For the next 48 hours, it was a lot of fussing and trying to entertain with movies and games. She was brought meals 3 times a day and I was given a $10 food voucher each day for anything in the cafeteria. While in the room, there is a camera that records our whole stay to be able to go back over and review anything that came up irregular on the EEG. It was a long process but we made it through and on Friday late morning, we were given the all clear to be able to leave.


Finally Going Home

After the all clear, we had to wait for the tech to come in to start the removal of all the electrodes. They have to put a solution in her hair to dissolve the glue used to hold everything in place. It took about 30 minutes to get everything off and we were left with messy hair.

After quite a bit of washing and brushing, I got her hair up and get her dressed to head out. Due to policy, she had to be wheeled out of the hospital to the car in a wheelchair. However, Lexi was loving all the positive attention as we left.

All dressed and ready to go

Little diva getting wheeled out

My husband picked us up and we finally were done and going home to enjoy the rest of our Friday afternoon.

Thankfully, the results came back all good so we can check this off our list as an issue and move on! As much as it was a pain and tiresome, I’m glad we were able to get this done and not have to worry about any underlying issue.

Well, I hope this gave you a better insight to some of the issues parents with kids on the spectrum deal with and what the process is like. Let me know if you had a different experience or want more information in the comments!

Thank you and hope you enjoy your weekend!

Cloe 💙

Sensory Deprivation: My Experience in a Float Therapy Spa

What was I going to do for one hour of silence? I couldn’t read or write – its pitch-black inside. Would I be okay with this kind of isolation? My mind was racing with thoughts as I read over my confirmation email. When I was offered a free session, I signed up out of curiosity. That’s when the fear set in as to what that actually entails. People that know me, know I am claustrophobic and prefer social activities compared to isolated ones. However, I have been hearing more and more about these sensory deprivation spas but I have never tried them or known anyone that has done it before. With such a strong curiosity, I couldn’t resist.

What is Sensory Deprivation?

Sensory Deprivation, Floating, or Restricted Environmental Stimulation Therapy (REST) – they are all the same thing but different names. It is scientifically proven to have mental and physical benefits. The water in a sensory deprivation tank is heated to match the temperature of your skin and its loaded with Epsom salt, providing buoyancy so you float. Some of the benefits of doing a float tank include:

  • Muscle relaxation
  • Better sleep
  • Decrease in pain
  • Decreased stress and anxiety
  • Lowers blood pressure and cortisol
  • Improves concentration and imagination
  • Aids in relief of PTSD symptoms

My Session

I had scheduled my float for Sunday after church at FloatEasy in San Juan Capistrano. As I arrived, I was greeted and given a quick rundown of what to expect and was given a video to watch that gave thorough instructions for my float. Once I completed my registration forms and watching that video, I was shown to the Quiet Room. The Quiet Room is a place to relax for about 10 minutes before your float. There is a nice variety of tea to pick from and some interesting books you can read through, even a sketchbook if you feel like writing or drawing.

The Quiet Room

 

Then I was shown to my own private room for my float. As the excitement in me was overwhelming, I had to first take a quick shower to get any excess oil off my hair and skin. Before climbing into my pod, I put earplugs in to keep the salt water out of my ears. Then, stepping carefully into the tank, I lower myself to sit in the comfortably warm water. I didn’t feel like it was going to be possible to float – my butt was firmly placed as I sat there for a second, playing with the light and music buttons. However, as I slowly tilted back – bop! – I was completely and effortlessly floating.

The Float Tank

As I lay floating, I couldn’t figure out what I was to do with my hands – arms to my side, arms across my stomach, arms above my head. I finally settled on my arms above my head and started listening to the soft rasp of my inhales and exhales. I played around with lights completely off and on, finally deciding to keep a faint light on since the endless black was a bit frightening. With my eyes closed, it felt as if I was drifting through space – nothingness around me, just the calm of my breathing.

At some point I must have fallen asleep or in that stage of drifting off, as I started having mini dreams and then I’d wake a bit and think. This went on for a while and I did eventually think they forgot about me and hours had passed. What must have been my last 10 minutes or so, I stretched and enjoyed playing around with the weightlessness.

The music and lights came back on, bringing me back to reality and signaling the end of my float session. I was so relaxed and energized, it was a bit sad that the experience was over. Climbing out and heading to my shower, I felt like my body was heavier than normal – probably from being weightless for so long. In contrast to my pre-shower, I relished in the hot water and enjoyed just feeling it wash over me.

Finally leaving my peaceful, private room, I head to the Vanity room to blow dry my hair, apply lotion and make myself presentable. Once done, I headed back to the Quiet Room to enjoy tea and some writing before heading back into the world.

My Verdict

After being so stressed about going, this was probably one of the most enjoyable self-care experiences. I am not one to go get nails done or a facial or massage but this! I would definitely do this again. It has now been five days since my float and I still feel more relaxed than I have ever been. I haven’t gotten a headache, I have zero back pain, and I feel like my mind is more clear, making my days easier. I will be going again and am excited for all the benefits I have already been able to see.

International Women’s Day – Marthe Cohn

This past Sunday evening, I had the privilege to attend a lecture, given by an incredible woman – Marthe Cohn. Not only did she live through the Nazis occupation of France, but she was a spy for the French Army. Being fluent in German, she assumed the identity of a German nurse and claimed she was searching for her missing fiancee. She told her daring story of spying on the Germans. At learning valuable information, she walked through the night, in the snow, to get the information to the French. She was able to prevent the ambush the Germans had planned in the Black Forest.


After the war, she was given many awards. Some of which included:

  • Croix de Guerre, 1945
  • Médaille militaire, 1999
  • Chevalier de la Légion d’honneur, 2002
  • Woman of Valor, from the Simon Wiesenthal Center, 2002
  • Medal of the Nation’s Gratitude, 2006
  • The Cross of the Order of Merit, Germany’s Highest Honor

I bought and read her book before going to see her and it is just an amazing story to read. For anyone interested it is: “Behind Enemy Lines: The True Story of a French Jewish Spy in Nazi Germany.”

I feel it is important for people to remember what happen all those years ago and to pay their respects to the people that fought for what was right. Marthe Cohn is a remarkable woman and people should hear her story.

I hope this inspires you to read her book and spend some time reflecting on the brave women in history that fought for others.

Happy International Women’s Day! 💋

Unique Valentines Day Ideas

Whether you are married, dating or single, here are some ideas for what to do and a few gift ideas as well.

Getting Out

  • Have a bonfire – snuggle up with your loved one and enjoy relaxing together.
  • Sign up for chocolate tasting – better than chocolate in a box.
  • Take a dance class – have fun learning a new dance together. Exciting swing dancing or romantic salsa.
  • Roller skating – really brings out the kid in each of us and you can enjoy the music too.
  • Tandem bike riding – enjoy the cool breeze and the funny moments you’re bound to have trying to ride on one bike

Staying Indoors

  • Plan a themed dinner and movie – it can be any theme to fit your unique relationship
  • Create a scavenger hunt – this could be as simple or elaborate as you would like
  • Have a board game night – pull out your favorite board game and let the games begin
  • Have a nerf gun war – how fun to act like kids again, sneaking around the house
  • Have a spa night – bubble bath, massage, anything else to pamper each other.


Gift Ideas

  • Personalize candy or drinks – make a custom label
  • Map of your love – cut out a heart in a map with the center being where you met, had your first date, or got married
  • Make a flip book – you can draw pictures or actually take pictures of yourself
  • Get cooking – if your loved one enjoys food, make something heart-shaped to eat together (pizza, cake)
  • Message board – you can turn a picture frame into a dry eraser board or get a letter board. You can send each other cute messages each day
  • A five senses gift – see (movie), hear (music, concert tickets), touch (massage oil, lingerie), taste (food, candy), and smell (cologne).

These are all ideas and can be completely customizable to you and your loved one.

Life: Then and Now – 10 Year Challenge

Everyone has been doing the 10 year challenge on social media this past week. I don’t feel like a picture of 2009 self vs 2019 self does justice of all that has changed in my life over the past 10 years. I figured a bit more detail would really show how much life for me has evolved.


2009

  • I was going to college, taking GE
  • I was single
  • I was working at a restaurant as a server
  • Enjoyed staying out late
  • Living at home
  • Shy and trying to find myself

2019

  • I have 3 Associates Degrees, still working on my BA and eventually my MA
  • I’m married with three wonderful little ones
  • I am currently a stay at home mom
  • Enjoy my early evenings
  • Looking to buy our first house
  • Confident in who I am

I am so happy with how my life has gone. In these past 10 years, I have married the funniest, most loyal man and had three crazy and sweet kids. There is nothing I would change. The good, the bad; it all made me the person I am today and I would love it all again if it meant being right where I am now.

New Years Resolutions

  • Workout
  • Eat Better
  • Better Our Faith
  • Write More
  • Read More
  • Travel
  • More Family Time VS Media
  • More Organization and Time Management


Workout

This last year, I never worked out. I was so focused on a new baby and school for the kids that I neglected my own health.

This year, I’m hoping to go on walks with the kids and do yoga at home with the kids. Not anything big, just better.


Eat Better

Last year, I was so busy I didn’t do much cooking. We ate quick fix meals most days and they were ok but I want to do better.

I am hoping to make meals ahead of time for the next couple days so I don’t feel like I’m always cooking. I think adding more veggies would be best too!


Better Our Faith

We already go to church, but….if we are tired or just not feeling like getting out, we sometimes skip.

I want my family to be committed to going EVERY Sunday and possibly doing some small events too. I want church to become a bigger part of our daily lives.

I would also, like the kids to have a better understanding and to have my husband and myself as role models.


Write More

I always tell myself I’m going to write in my journal all the time. I think I wrote maybe 8 times this past year.

I have wanted to write a book for almost 4 years now and I just keep procrastinating.

I hope to write at least monthly in my journal and try to get a rough draft for a book done this year.


Read More

I love reading but I feel like I have put that on the back burner and started watching more tv.

For the kids, we read bedtime books about twice a week. That definitely needs to change.

Hopefully I can read more and watch less tv. I’m hoping to starting having a solid bedtime reading with the kids. I feel reading is so important for young minds.


Travel

It’s difficult to travel with kids but I think if we start small and work our way up to big adventures, it is possible. I’d like to just explore more with the kids and make some wonderful family memories together.


More Family Time vs Media

Sometimes we get so caught up in tv, social media, game and we forget to focus on what’s right in front of us.

I want to spend more time with the kids making memories instead of relaxing and just watching movies. Time passes us by and we can never get that time back – there are no redos.

So I want to make the most of the time I have with the people I love the most – my family!


More Organization and Time Management

This covers all the other goals I’ve set for 2019. More organization of tasks and time management will allow all the previous to become a reality. Plus, who doesn’t need to be organized and manage their time better.


I hope you all had a wonderful and memorable New Year!!!

Let me know what your resolutions are! 😊