Tuesday, January 31, 2012

It's on my list!

For most parents it is often difficult to figure out what your child likes, what is motivating and how hard to push them when they are learning a new task or skill.  For kiddos on the autism spectrum figuring out these three things consistently at times seems impossible.  One of the first big issues that we had to tackle for Rye was food.  By the time Rye was four-years-old he was really only willing to eat about 12 things.  He would not eat anything that was mixed together and didn’t like any of his food to touch.  From a very young age he would line his food up based on color and then eat it in order, saving red food items to eat last.  We went through the whole well you will eat this or you won’t eat anything and eventually you will be hungry idea, and well Rye didn’t care and wouldn’t eat anything.  Yet another reminder that when you are on this journey that unfortunately, negative consequences don't really work.  His weight was a constant worry.  He was however willing to eat all healthy foods and pretty much keeps to a Paleo Diet of meat, fruit, vegetables and sweets as long as they were one of his 12 or so items.  I mean this kid wouldn’t really eat chicken nuggets for goodness sake!!  

We would fight it for a while then give up (the vicious cycle you easily fall into as an autism parent.)  Like I said we were lucky that Rye was willing to eat healthy things.  I talk to a lot of parents who fall into this cycle and unfortunately the only thing they will eat are unhealthy processed foods.  One day when I was trying to get Rye to try something (spaghetti with meatballs) he said “NO, not on MY LIST.”  I got to thinking, well what is on your list?  I then sat down with Rye and printed icons from www.do2learn.com (love this site by the way.)  I printed an icon of every food imaginable.  I began showing him one picture icon at a time and asked him if it was on his list.  He would say yes or no and then I would paste it on a poster board if it was a “yes”.  Come to find out Rye had close to forty foods “on his list.”  I then started feeding him only items on the list for about a week.  He was so happy.  After about a week I started mixing a few foods together and telling him “everything in this is on your list.”  I then showed him on the visual and he was hesitant at first but he would try it and he would eat most of it.  I then started reinforcing him for “adding” things to his list.  Worked like a charm.  After a while when I made dinner all I had to say was, Rye it is on your list, you need to eat it, and he did.  If I was able to "sneak" something in I would print the icon and put it on the list.  It seems silly but something about providing the visual and giving him the control to agree because it was on his list worked for us.  I know so many of you who struggle with this issue just thought I would share what worked for us.  Good luck!

1 comment:

  1. your son is beautiful!!!
    I am the proud mom of 2 autistic boys, the oldest is 32 and the youngest is 14.
    I think they are amazing guys!!!
    I could not be more proud!
    Sincerely Carol