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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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.

Mama Motivation

Life as a parent comes with joy, humor, excitement and love; but it also comes with frustration, exhaustion, stress and sadness.

In those low moments as a parent, finding a silver lining can make a world of difference to your outlook on life and family.

Being a mom of three is crazy; being a mom of three and two have special needs – insane! However, I always find a positive outlook to all the negative that comes with disabilities.

Just this past week, I had an early IEP (Individualized Education Program), scheduled a 3 day EEG and scheduled an audiology appointment (daughter might need a hearing aid). To top it all off, I took my daughter to the ER for a severely infected ingrown toenail, which they had to scalpel open. This is not including our regular schedule of therapy and preschool.

When I tell anyone about all this craziness, they always have some of the same questions for me. How do you do it all? Doesn’t this stress you out? Don’t you get worn out? Honestly, motivation is all that keeps me going.

My motivation is my children. I have to push past my stress of all I need to do, push past my sadness for what my children are going to have to endure; and give them reassurance that everything is under control and they will be okay with anything that comes our way. I show them that just because something bad happens, it doesn’t mean I give up or break down. That doesn’t mean I don’t take small moments to deal with my emotions but I get my feelings out and then get back to work.

The silver linings I found in the possibility that my daughter might be partially deaf in one ear – she can still hear with her right ear and once we get a hearing aid for her, her speech with improve as well!

The silver lining in going to the ER today – I was forced to make all my calls and schedule appointments since there was nothing else to do. Plus, some focused time on how my daughter felt while my son spent some quality time with grandma.

In all that happens in our life, we can learn from the struggles and help others in the same situation. Be thankful for what you have and realize that there is so much more to be thankful for than we give credit.

Hope this gave you a more positive outlook and some ideas for your own motivation in life!

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’‹

Flashback Friday #3 – Family Resemblance

As we get older we start to notice resemblances we share with certain family members, whether or not we like it. Scrolling through photos on my phone, I realized how much Leo and I look like my mom and me when I was younger. 

Here is a photo of my mom and me. She is about 23 and I am about 3 years old. 


Now here is a photo of Leo and I today. I’m 25 and he is 2 1/2. 


It’s crazy seeing how much I have become to look like my mom and how I can look at my own son and see so much of me as a child. He is my mini twin. It is crazy to think, this little man is my baby and looks so much like but is his own person. 


Above is a photo of me on the left and Leo on the right. 

Leo may look like me but his personality it completely different from mine. We only share small characteristics. I love my family and wouldn’t want it any other way. I think it’s amazing to see genetics at work in a families resemblance to each other. 

Let me know if you or another family member share some major resemblances. And let me know what you think of the above photos πŸ˜‰

Marriage Tip #2 – Keep Dating

Some people fall into a rut once they get married and the one thing I’ve learned to remember is, when you get married that doesn’t mean you stop dating. Before you get the wrong idea, just take a moment to think about it. 

By continuing to date your spouse, that means you don’t stop going on date nights, or doing the small cute things for one another like writing notes or doing small surprises. I’ve made a short list of a few keys to dating your spouse and what that means exactly. 

  1. Don’t forget the small things – All that means is to remember it’s the small daily things that show each and every day that you choose them as your love and appreciate them. That even means holding hands, just some small physical contact creates a strong bond. 
  2. Don’t forget to laugh – Getting to share moments of laughter really strengthen the bond in a relationship. It’s crucial to be able to laugh with someone and enjoy each other’s company. 
  3. Don’t forget to celebrate your love – Even if you aren’t into Valentine’s Day, it means so much to give a gift to your partner just to show you care and go out of your way for the other. 
  4. Try new things together – Whether that means new food or learning how to dance, it is always fun to feel the sense of adventure and brings you closer together as you learn something. 

All I’m saying is don’t lose your spontaneous, playful, meaningful and child-at-heart relationship with your spouse.

Flashback Friday #2 – Childhood Before Technological Integration

Since I’ve got two little ones of my own, I am amazed at how much they understand and crave technology. Kids today are growing up in a completely different way with technology at their fingertips. Everywhere you go, kids on iPads, iPhones and they know how to use them better than most adults! It’s frightening


When I was growing up, some technology was becoming popular but not common. For fun we would go outside and play games or pass a ball around or go exploring our town with friends. Today, kids watch others on youtube, chat with complete strangers over messaging apps and would rather browse Facebook than go socialize in the real world. 


I watch my own children and I can see how easy it is to let them get absorbed into technology. It keeps them busy and makes getting things done with kids easier. But at the same time, they have an attachment to the devices and throw the biggest tantrums when they are taken away. With that being said, I’ve been really trying to get them to experience some of the same thing I did as a kid but that means no iPad aka no life source. 


I remember the good days when we would build forts out of anything and everything we could find, we actually spent time engaging with our friends when we hung out with them, we would wander our town looking for an adventure, we made up the most absurd games or activities to entertain ourselves and nobody had to worry about anyone recording you when you acted crazy or funny. We traded cards and most games were made out of paper. 


I know I can’t stop the way things are but I hope to instill some sense of adventure and curiousity for life outside of the Internet. 

If any of y’all have some good memories of childhood before the Internet, comment below with your favorite ones! πŸ˜‹