Autism and Aspergers
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Help with autistic son who wont try new food

Sarah345Sarah345 Member Posts: 5 Listener
Hi, I'm wondering if anyone can help or give me some ideas or strategies. My son is 5 and autistic. The variety of foods he would eat was quite good and slowly over the years and more recently the different varieties of foods he will eat is getting smaller. The foods he used to eat he now says taste bad, he point blank refuses to try any new foods. He is always saying he is hungry (because there isnt much foods he likes to fill up on) and when we ask him what he wants, he says he doesnt know and gets upset, he doesnt choose if we give him a choice of foods. He will only eat certain types of foods at certain times, so breakfast foods he wouldn't eat at dinner time etc. We are trying messy play with foods to get him interested in food but any other advice would be appreciated as in not sure what to do next. Many thanks xx

Replies

  • janer1967janer1967 Community champion Posts: 8,439 Disability Gamechanger
    Hi and welcome to the community, I am sorry I dont have any advice to give other than my son who is not autistic also went through this stage and it may not be right but I was told by GP just to give him what he enjoyed as at least he was getting food.

    Maybe you may find something useful in our parents section or have you had a look on any autistic forums for advice.

    You could also contact your GP to refer you to a nutrition specialist
  • poppy123456poppy123456 Member Posts: 22,218 Disability Gamechanger
    HI and welcome,

    My daughter has Autism and she's 19 but she has exactly the same issues as your son. When i ask her what she wasnts she can't choose because she can't make decisions. The more choice i give her the worse it is. Usually she also only eats what she likes the most. She will try new things sometimes but always says she doesn't like it and it tastes horrible.

    Now i just cook what i know she likes, otherwise she won't eat at all. I'm not sure what you can do here because i've battled for more than 10 years with my daughter and i still fail.
    Community champion and proud winner of the 2019 empowering others award. This award was given for supporting disabled people and their families for the benefit advice i have given to members here on the community.
  • woodbinewoodbine Member Posts: 3,512 Disability Gamechanger
    Upto the age of 5 our grandson would eat anything you put in front of him, now 12 months later he has become a fussy eater, I believe its something a lot of kids go through.
    my advice is given freely and is correct to the best of my knowledge.
  • Sarah345Sarah345 Member Posts: 5 Listener
    janer1967 said:
    Hi and welcome to the community, I am sorry I dont have any advice to give other than my son who is not autistic also went through this stage and it may not be right but I was told by GP just to give him what he enjoyed as at least he was getting food.

    Maybe you may find something useful in our parents section or have you had a look on any autistic forums for advice.

    You could also contact your GP to refer you to a nutrition specialist
    Hi thanks for your help, I'd like to give him what he wants but he is overweight already and I dont want to just give him all of the unhealthy foods he wants, he isn't going without food it's just old like to be able to offer him more variety when he does ask for food, ideally I'm looking to try and change his feelings towards food and reduce any anxiety he has. I'm on a lot of the forums and asking for advice there too. I've contacted his Dr but they havent been much help. They can refer to a dietician but it's not a case of knowing how to eat healthy, it's how to try and eat new foods. Thank you for your reply x
  • Sarah345Sarah345 Member Posts: 5 Listener
    HI and welcome,

    My daughter has Autism and she's 19 but she has exactly the same issues as your son. When i ask her what she wasnts she can't choose because she can't make decisions. The more choice i give her the worse it is. Usually she also only eats what she likes the most. She will try new things sometimes but always says she doesn't like it and it tastes horrible.

    Now i just cook what i know she likes, otherwise she won't eat at all. I'm not sure what you can do here because i've battled for more than 10 years with my daughter and i still fail.
    I know people are saying to give him what he wants, which we do most of the time, but he will get into a habit of this and I feel like I should be trying to help him to try new foods rather than give him what he likes. Maybe I'm being too optimistic but I feel like I have to try. I don't expect anything to happen overnight but I feel like I have to try. It's just I need ideas on how to get him to try new foods. We do give him a limited choice of foods and he still cant choose. Thank you for your reply x
  • Sarah345Sarah345 Member Posts: 5 Listener
    woodbine said:
    Upto the age of 5 our grandson would eat anything you put in front of him, now 12 months later he has become a fussy eater, I believe its something a lot of kids go through.

  • Sarah345Sarah345 Member Posts: 5 Listener
    I think that's very true of a lot of kids, my daughter who isnt autistic was the same she ate more foods when she was younger than she does know and I know in time I'm sure she will eat more foods as she gets older. With my son who is autistic I think its different than just a phase he is going through.  Thank you for your reply x
  • Chloe_ScopeChloe_Scope Scope Posts: 10,652 Disability Gamechanger
    Hi @Sarah345, welcome to the community. I can imagine the this has been stressful. The National Autistic Society have some information on eating and managing food. I hope this is useful.
    Community Partner
    Scope

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  • MrCatMrCat Member [under moderation] Posts: 29 Listener
    Ah, you have one of those picky eater Aspies? Just figure out which texture he likes and try to cook the food more like that?
  • newbornnewborn Member Posts: 675 Pioneering
    Yes, as Chloe scope says, specialist autistic advice is best. Might I suggest you are being a great parent, fighting the easy way out and trying to reduce the obesity,  when even parents of non autistic don't always  bother?

    Can you simply ensure you haven't bought anything junk, so if the cupboards are bare, he cannot make the choice and can see for himself the biscuits, crisps and sugar are all eaten up and gone?  As long as he doesn't  come with you to the shops, would  it be logical to him that if it's gone, it's gone?  I don't know by experience,  but would the straightforwardness of his reasoning be in your favour? 

    The other thing, which I have experienced with some children trained to eat junk,,  is to sneakily swap for healthier but similar things.   There are more and more, especially  in health shops, but also in supermarkets,  such as stuff without sugar, or low calorie crisps, or dried fruit or veg instead of crisps.

    The other difficulty you mention is about the correct items of food at the correct mealtimes, and not wanting to deal with offers of choices  in between meals.   First thought is to always have two or three drinks of water, (possibly with a bit of unsweetened fruit juice in the appropriately  coloured cup), maybe always  on the drainer, which he can select himself as and when he feels hungry at non mealtimes

     And, do you strictly need to eat at set times?   I have no idea how much it would distress him for the family to have a first and a second breakfast, maybe a small bowl of sugarless cereal at one, and a boiled egg at another .   Sorry, I'm  second guessing if slightly varying but still conforming would be a possible slackening of his need for routine, or would make him anxious. 

    Another poster mentioned texture, which I can see could be an important possibility to make different  things interesting.   I've known one child who took forever to get through a meal, not that she didn't  want it, just that she was (grew up to still be) a really slow eater.  Another had apparently some non diagnosed swallowing problems,  right from birth, so it was physically  easier for him to fill up on sweets than roast beef, but he didn't have the language to explain the problem,  and the whole family became tense at meals,  but they never tried not buying the cupboards-full of junk,  nor of making easily swallowed food (mince rather than chunks  of meat for instance).

    What about not serving  each person's personal plateful, just putting a suitable amount of good foods on the middle of the table with no fuss or remark, including some he used to like, and each helping yourselves to a very  little, acting away like Judi Dench, then in an offhand way, later taking  a little of something else, as if food is all fine, and pleasant, although it  isn't particularly important to any one of you, and you haven't really noticed what anyone else is eating......I think it's  something I saw on a professional nanny documentary. (I  think I  can comprehend him not wanting to be questioned and made responsible for difficult decisions,  till "no" becomes the easiest word. )
  • newbornnewborn Member Posts: 675 Pioneering
    Newsflash today about a child becoming  ill because  he restricted  his diet to dairylee. Did you see it? I didn't  read detail but apparently a cognitive behaviour  hypnotist cured him instantly.  Your child is younger and it may not be suitable,  but at least it's  worth keeping  at the back of your mind
  • justjoejustjoe Member Posts: 7 Listener
    Sensory issues with food can be a real issue for autistics. I personally cannot even look at 'slimy' food like avocado or cold pasta and mayonnaise - I much prefer a crunch. And it has to be the exact right temperature, or I can't eat it. 
    If you could look up arfid (avoidant restrictive food intake disorder) you might find some clues as to your child's preferences. 
    I get stressed and can't eat proper food, I can't cook it properly sometimes so I eat toast a lot. It's the healthiest bread I can find but it's still only toast. After a few days my stress eases off and I can eat properly again. 
    NAS might have some information on their website too.
    I hope that helps? Best wishes 
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