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 πŸ’‹

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Autism: IEP Process

I’ve decided to share some IEP experience tips and give other parents an insight to what they should expect. 

  • First, be prepared to have many, many meetings so they can evaluate your child. We, personally, had 7 meetings before the final meeting.
  • Second, always remember that you are your child’s best and only advocate. Fight for what you feel your child deserves and needs.
  • Third, have support during this process. This could be your spouse, family member or friend. Makes decisions easier and takes the stress of pressure off of you. 
  • Finally, Don’t feel obligated to sign when presented with their IEP recommendation. You can take it home to “think” about it. I took it home and asked my sons pediatrician and other therapists what they thought and they all thought he should have more time. 

I just recently received the decision of what the school district is offering for my son. They are giving him 1 hr a week of group speech and that is it! I requested to take the IEP home and decide what I think. 

I am going to come back at them with the request for at least 2 hrs a week of individual speech and at least 1 hr a week of OT. 

Once they review my request, they will schedule another meeting and I will find out if they will be adding my request or if they don’t feel he needs the extra time. 

*I will post an update once we get the final decision.*


Please feel free to share some of your experiences or any comment or questions you have! 😁

Tips and Advice for Coping with PTSD

To conclude my series of PTSD Awareness Month, I’ve decided to write some tips for people dealing with PTSD – coping skills – and what you can do to help others with this issue by understanding components of PTSD. 

Part 1 – Dealing with PTSD

  1. Exercise – It will release endorphins and help you focus your thoughts. 
  2. Self soothe – Finding what calms you down will help when you really need to get back to what you were doing. 
  3. Connect – Find others who share the same struggle to connect with and help each other. 
  4. Self Care – Take time to relax, eat healthy, stay away from alcohol and drugs, get a good amount of sleep. 

Different things will help depending on what caused your PTSD. 

For abuse, writing out the whole traumatic experience will be difficult but is a great way to feel like you’ve moved past the event. 

For combat, connecting and seeking out some kind of counceling will help. Finding the right counselor is a big part of getting better. 


Part 2 – Supporting Someone with PTSD

  1. Don’t pressure – It can be difficult to express what exactly they are feeling or what they experienced. 
  2. Listen – Most of the time, someone dealing with PTSD need to talk about their issues. Help guide them with what to do by their cues. They may need to just talk about the event over and over again, other times they just need someone to hangout with that doesn’t pressure them. 
  3. Understand Triggers – This could include anniversary dates; people or places connected with the trauma; and even certain sights, sounds, or smells. By being aware of the triggers that may cause a reaction, you are better able to help and understand them. 
  4. It’s not Personal – Dont take certain behaviors personal like anger, irritatable or being closed off. Accept you may never fully understand what they are going through.
  5. Balance – Taking care of yourself and keeping a level head works wonders. Also, learning more about PTSD will help you to understand better. 


So I hope you can go out there and use these tips to help aid yourself or someone else deal with this issue. It can be difficult but with support and determination, you can accomplish a better life. 😊

Let me know if you found these to be helpful or if you have your own tip to add. Just comment below πŸ‘

Motivation Monday #2 – Turn a Negative into a Positive

Everyone has had a bad day before. Whether the cause was someone else’s or our own, we have all had something happen that makes us mad, sad, frustrated or defeated. That’s ok, we are all human and that’s part of a human experience. However, it’s not ok to stop and settle into that feeling or mood. There is always a positive that can come from a negative, always. 


Most situations that put us in a bad mood can easily be deflected if we just change our mindset. They way we think really does affect our daily lives. Positive thinking and acting attracts other positive behaviors and actions. 


I made a short list of some things to incorporate into your daily life to gain more positivity. 

  1. Express gratitude-showing gratitude increases the value of what you do have
  2. Be optimistic-optimism grows endless opportunities
  3. Avoid social comparison-everyone is different, everyone has different strengths. Focus on you, what you think of yourself is all that matters
  4. Learn to forgive-It will set you free from resentment and you can move forward
  5. Practice kindness-Being selfless creates such a strong feel good feeling and makes you happy to have made a difference
  6. Enjoy the small things-You can’t truly enjoy life unless you take time to relish in the small things. Sunsets, stars, laughter, snow falling. 
  7. Take care of your body-When you feel your best, you become the best version of you. 


Now, here are some of my own personal experiences that started out as negatives but I turned them into positives. 

  1. A family members death-I can comfort others in similar situations.  Also, I now strive to make a difference and make the deceased proud of me. 
  2. Parents divorce-I can relate and help others going through parents divorce. I learned what not to do in a marriage. 
  3. Struggle financially-I learned that not all outing and adventures need to be bought(i.e. Disneyland, movies)
  4. Assaulted-Learned to stand up for myself and that abuse is not deserved. I can relate and help others in similar situations as well. 
  5. Anxiety-Learned what makes me happy and I do more things like journaling, painting and reading to de-stress

I hope that now when you are having just one of those days, you take a minute to be grateful for what you have and to change that negative into a positive! πŸ˜‰

If you have any comments or questions, feel free to comment below and I will respond πŸ˜ŠπŸ‘