There’s nothing more annoying than spending time in the kitchen, whipping up a meal, only to have it refused, point blank. It’s even more frustrating when the child in question hasn’t even bothered giving the food a taste. They just flat out refuse.
You worry that they’re not eating enough, or enough of the right things. Besides, it just makes you feel unappreciated, what with the effort you’ve just put in making the meal.
It’s hard not to take it personally, but you can’t, especially when it comes to children with autism.
One of the key characteristics with children with an autism spectrum disorder are the sensory issues, whether this be hypersensitivity or hyposensitivity. Children will need extra sensory stimulation; increased pressure, large movements, or, at the other end, their senses can be heightened.
Therefore, noises can seem too loud, clothing can feel uncomfortable against the skin, tags on shirts can irritate...and food can be an issue.
Food consumption is influenced by the look, smell, taste and feel of the overall meal, and even individual ingredients.
For children with autism, they can be genuinely repelled by certain foods. Perhaps the smell is too strong for them, or the taste too distinctive or overwhelming. They may even like the taste of the food, but find the feel of it in their mouth disturbing or off-putting.
Some children prefer the crunchy feel of uncooked vegetables, such as carrots, as they provide a greater sensory experience, and the texture of cooked carrots is “too mushy”, for example.
In determining if your child is a “fussy eater”, first and foremost, remember it’s not personal, it is a genuine aversion to certain foods, or food combinations. Work out what the sensory issue is and it makes life – and meals – much easier to work around.