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: Different Therapy Options

April is Autism Awareness Month so I have decided to go into the different therapies that my son receives and just explain the purpose of each.

All of the following are my own personal experiences and understanding of each type of therapy. None of this should be taken for what you will experience. This is for informational purposes only.


ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis)

I feel this one is the most important for kids with autism. It is an in-home therapy that works on behavior, areas of developmental delays and almost any issue that your child is dealing with that is not age appropriate.

Right now, my son receives 10 hours a week of therapy and during those sessions, they work on:

  • Speech
  • Fine Motor Skills (Cutting, coloring)
  • Basic Social Skills (His name and age, turn taking)
  • Self Care (Washing hands, brushing teeth)

Speech

This one is a given since our biggest issue with my son is a speech delay. He has broken sentences and about 50 to 75 words but most people have a hard time understanding him since he has a mild slur as well.

He goes to individual speech twice a week for half and hour each time. Plus, an hour once a week as preschool.

Since he started speech, I’ve notice an improvement in his receptive speech, expressive speech and articulation.


OT (Occupational Therapy)

This one is helpful for some of my sons more mild challenges of sensory issues.

They help him with eating – he is a VERY picky eater and does not like too much variety. When I say this, I’m meaning he I’ll only eat a few things.

  • Chicken nuggets
  • Apple sauce pouches (only in the pouches)
  • Bananas, strawberries, apples
  • Muffins
  • Eggs
  • Nutella Sandwich
  • Chips

That is it. No other foods. So daily, this is all he will eat. He won’t try anything else.

So they help try to expose him to new foods and get him to at least taste the food. He goes to OT once a week for an hour.


Special Autism Preschool (IEP)

This may be my favorite therapy for Leo. He gets to go to a preschool, specific for kids with mild disabilities, for a little over two hours every day during the week.

I enjoy knowing Leo is getting social time with peers, he is out of the house and they work on things to prep him for kindergarten. Plus, they incorporate speech and OT into his learning to help reinforce what he is learning outside of the classroom.

I’ve notice a boost in Leo’s confidence and all other areas since he started preschool. Also, he loves school! He will get sad when I pick him up and is so excited when I drop him off. Knowing he loves school makes it easier to drop him off.


Well, that’s all the therapy Leo gets but I know there are a ton more out there for kids with different issues or more severity. Currently, Lexi is also taking part in all these therapies but for slightly different reasons, she does not have a diagnosis yet.

If you have any questions or would like to share a different therapy you, a family member or friend takes part in, feel free to share in the comments!

Thank you for reading!

Cloe πŸ’‹

Autism Awareness Month Q&A

So I’m just going to post a few questions I received and my answers. All answers are my opinion or point of view, not all my experiences will be the same for someone else dealing with autism. No two people with autism have the same symptoms or issues. 

Q: What did you think when you found out he had autism?

A: Surprisingly, I was more relieved than anything because now had a plan of how to deal with whatever was thrown my way. If you are wanting more of my diagnosis experience, check out my past blog post on it. 


Q: How has that changed your life?

A: It hasn’t changed that much. He goes to preschool like other kids but it’s a mild special needs class that works on speech. My life with autism isn’t that much different besides making sure he gets therapy to help in the areas he has delays. 

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Q: Is there anything he isn’t able to do since he’s autistic?

A: Not really. The only thing I can think of is maybe some independent things since he can’t talk too much yet and isn’t potty trained yet. 

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Q: Is he on a special diet?

A: Yes, but very mild restrictions. He can’t have dairy but that is it. I substitute milk with coconut milk and chocolate with carob chips. Cheese is the only hard one since there are substitutes but he doesn’t like the taste. 


Q: How did you know he was autistic?

A: When he was about 1 years old, he was very antisocial, didn’t babble or make eye contact, didn’t play with toys but was fascinated by wheels and light up toys. He didn’t respond to his name or understand simple instructions. Had issues with textures and restrictive clothing. They just seemed odd and I asked to make sure he was ok. Nothing wrong with those behaviors unless they would interfere with his future life. Started therapy and saw major improvements. 


Hope this was informational and thank you all for the questions. Let me know what you thing in the comments!

Happy Easter!! πŸ£πŸ‡πŸ° 
Love, Cloe πŸ’‹

Autism: Dairy Free Diet

Since we have gotten the autism diagnosis, we have researched every option to help with Leo’s symptoms and behaviors. The one that seemed like a simple change that could have a big impact was switching off of dairy completely. 


It was a little more difficult than expected because I didn’t realize that the only foods my son liked to eat was all dairy products. Milk, string cheese, mac&cheese, quesadillas, yogurt, ice cream and chocolate. 

The first two days were rough, he was extra fussy and didn’t want anything. I had substituted milk with almond and coconut milk. No cheese at all or yogurt. There is coconut milk ice cream and carob chips (similar to chocolate), so he wasn’t completely cut from everything. 

By day three, we started to see a difference in Leo’s behavior. 

  • He had better attention
  • Willingness to try new things
  • More vocal
  • Fewer tantrums
  • More responsive 


With the results we saw, we were going to stick to a dairy free diet. So we all have been dairy free since October and I can’t go back. I tried having milk and I got stomach aches. It has helped all of our health, not just Leo’s. 

I would highly suggest anyone and everyone to try removing dairy from their diet and see what results they notice. The time it takes to see results vary from person to person. We were lucky to have some results within the first week but it can take up to a month to start seeing a change. And for some, it may not help at all but it is worth a shot. 

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I hope this was informational and helpful. If you have more questions or comments, feel free to send me a message!

Love, Cloe πŸ’™

World Autism Awareness Day

Today is World Autism Awareness Day and you can show your Awareness by wearing blue.


April is Autism Awareness Month, so for this month I’ll be posting about autism and doing a Q&A for any of you with questions. 

Autism has good stories – thankfully. But it also has its heartache, challenges and tireless effort. I’d like to share both sides to having a child with autism. 

Many people don’t understand autism in the least. I’ve had my share of experiences with people not knowing what it is he has. 

Autism is the least funded disability in the U.S. effecting the most children. 


So, please send me your questions for me to answer and I’ll be posting more soon on autism. 

Love, Cloe πŸ’™

Autism: First Day of Preschool

My son, Leo, started preschool on Wednesday and I was nervous because he has had a hard time with other school like classes. He hates going to speech and cries when therapists show up at the home for ABA. So I was nervous for how he would be with school. 


He was excited to get his backpack on and there was no complaints walking to his class. We had met his teacher prior to Leo’s first day so when he saw her, he ran right up to her and held her hand. 

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Without any given directions he followed her to the door of his class and saw everyone else hanging their backpacks up on the hooks and he did the same. Turned and waved at me and walked into class. 

It melted my heart! I was so proud of his independence and confidence but sad that it was that easy for him to say bye to me! Haha a silly thing but only a parent would understand. 

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It was a strange feeling being without him for a little over two hours but also a little freeing. When it was time to pick Leo up, I was so excited expecting him to ​​be happy to see me. However, I got the opposite response. He held his teachers leg saying “school, school,” and motioning for me to leave. 

Finally got him to leave but he was crying and pointing back at his class. I guess I can be thankful that he really loves school and his teacher. 

Crying because he saw the car and didn’t want to leave school

If you have any funny first day of school stories, please feel free to share them in the comments below. Or if you have any comments or questions, go ahead and comment below. Thank you!

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! 😁