Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Let's Eat

Ah, sustenance. The human being needs all sorts of literal and figurative nourishment, from the arts to the actual products of the land. Some people seem to live on coffee and cigarettes, others on chocolate and candy. Sushi and a good book could do it for me, though lately I've been favouring plenty of fruit and veg.

Little A, like most children, ate everything as an infant, though he really did not like applesauce or apples, and still won't eat them. Then he was diagosed with ASD and we attempted to rid him of gluten and casein. He no longer has dairy, and never liked sweets (fruit included) but we could never completely go gluten free because his favourite snack, corn flakes, are made with some sort of malt barley coating.

He went through a stage of liking three other snack foods - a sweetened corn snack, kettle popcorn and pretzels, but these days he has shifted firmly back into cornflakes territory. Real-food wise, he no longer eats pasta and bread, and has gone off broccoli and leafy greens, something he used to consume without complaint, so long as it was mixed into his meat-and-rice meal (think mixed fried rice in various combinations.)

Most recently, he's gone off soy-sauce based dishes as well, and only likes "orange food," or anything based in tomato sauce. At school, however, he will only eat processed breakfast food.

In my attempts to get him to eat healthier, I limit the processed meats to schoolday lunches only, so he has to eat "real" food at home. For a few days, this worked. But then the weekend came and he realised he was being cheated of his daily dose of additives.

He now comes into the kitchen, looks at what's cooking, and then at the food on the table. If it isn't to his liking, he puts a pan on the hob, climbs up to the cupboards, selects a tin of processed meat, and motions for us to open, and quickly cook it while he takes an empty plate to the table, pushing aside the one with the unpreferred food on it. This is accompanied by appropriately selected word cards or writing - "Sanuge" for sausage, or bacon, or Spam.

One of the establishing tenets of communication therapy is that what the child asks for, provided it is requested properly, they get immediately. It's a basic reward system to encourage them to communicate more. As they get better at it, the concept of waiting is introduced. Then they are made to choose between preferred and non-preferred objects, and finally between two non-preferred objects. I know when we get to that part on the food game, my little one will likely go hungry. I was a headstrong child and a very picky eater, likely the result of so many food allergies, and would fall asleep at the table rather than consume food I did not like. If he's anything like me, then I'm in for it. 

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