Friday, 18 May 2012

Diet and Autistic children,

What children need is not new and better curriculm but access to more of the real world; plenty of time and space to think over their experiences, and to use fantasy and play to make meaning out of them." John Holt

Until quite recently my son has happily eaten most of the foods I put before him. Granted,like most children he has a penchant for chocolate and fizzy drinks when given half a chance but he will gobble down an indian curry, a roast dinner or a cajun chicken wrap without much persuasion.
I remember as a toddler he would often go for hours without a drink and it would be necessary to remind him to drink a glass of milk or water if he became too absorbed in his activities. Even now he will often forget he is hungry when absorbed with his X box or computer. However I have noticed that suddenly he 'has gone off' most of the foods he would eat until quite recently. He doesn't like, the beefburgers we have always bought.The sausages taste   'strange'. Even pizza isn't the same as the one we usually get.
I have become quite used to the grimaces of distaste as I place a lovingly prepared meal in front of him ands he rises up silently and walks out the room as though in some way I've offended him. I have tried to ignore it, it's nothing personal and he will get something when he is really hungry and to a certain extent it has worked. However yesterday, having spent a lovely afternoon at the cinema we came home and I offered him a bacon sandwich. The day before his grandma had come round and he had tucked in to two bacon sandwiches and professed the bacon to be 'much better that mums'. There was some bacon left and he accepted the offer but when placed in front of him he turned up his nose and said he didn't like it like that! I bit my tongue and said I would eat it for my own lunch instead. An hour later I was about to pick up his siblings from school when he said he was very hungry. I explained wearily he would have to find something as I had to go out and he went over to a bag of mars bars and took one, I suggested that it might be better to choose something more healthy and then found myself at the end of my sons fist as he screamed and swore that I hadn't offered anything to him to eat! *He was very sorry afterwards that he hadn't been able to control his anger and it is an issue which we need to address as a priority as it is the most debilitating part of my sons autism and will only become harder to manage as he becomes older, but the matter of his eating habits is also of concern as no matter how hard I try his food is 'wrong'. I am considering a nutritionist with experise in Autism, have been to the supermarket today and bought several ready made curries as a back up when we are eating lasagne or chilli and other meals he professes not to like. I have spoken to other parents and learned that it seems to be a common problem with teenage Autistics and I can only researcgh and experiment and find out more about it. My son has learned to make a milk shake today and we have bought a variety pack of cereals for him to eat whenever he is hungry as hunger is no doubt contributing to his bad temper and anger. I will share my experience as we learn together how to keep him fit and healthy and how we cope with his anger issues which to date have not been addressed by the professionals supposedly in charge of my son's mental health due to lack of ressources and inappropriate expertise in our locality. One of the books recommended is Can't eat , won't eat by Brenda Legge so I'll maybe do some reading and see what I can learn!

* I have decided to include reference to my son's anger as it is a common problem with many Autistic children which is not being adequately addressed in many area of Britain and often leads to exclusion from schools'

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