Are you dealing with a picky eater? Are you making several meals to accommodate all of the picky eaters in your family? Dealing with a picky eater can be frustrating.
Autism and Sensory and Picky Eaters
Kids in general can be picky eaters. Individuals with autism have more of a tendency to be picky eaters and can also have sensory issues that can make the picky eating even more challenging. What do I mean by sensory issues? These can be things like look, smell, texture, and taste.
Our 5 Senses and Food
When we are presented with food, we first see and smell. If the food does not look appetizing to us or has a smell that is unpleasant, we are less likely to want to eat it. This can be even more intensified for individuals with autism and those with sensory issues. Once we taste the food, we experience the texture or textures of it and the taste. But what happens when we don’t like the taste or can’t tolerate the texture? Most of us, either chew and swallow, learning that is not a food we want to eat again or discretely spit it out. Individuals with autism may not have the skills to express their dislike and may not be as discrete in spitting out the food.
What Can We Do About Picky Eating?
What can we do about picky eaters? How can we encourage trying new foods? How can we increase the textures tolerated?
- Preferred foods-we want to figure out which foods individuals like. This will help us encourage trying new foods and help us to figure out which new foods to try out.
- Textures-what textures are liked and disliked?
- Colors and smells-are there certain color foods that are liked or disliked? What about smells?
- Small steps-take small steps when introducing new foods. Maybe introduce the look and smell before having the individual taste it.
- Proximity-place the new food on the table near the individual so they get used to the look and smell. You can even eat the new food yourself, making comments of how good it is.
- Systematic-as the individuals gets more comfortable, start encouraging smelling the food up close and tasting the food.
- Reinforce-praise the individual continuously.
Patience, Patience, Patience!
Be patient! This can take time and you may even need additional support and help to get your picky eater to try new foods and expand their palate.
We Can Help!
If you find yourself frustrated, discouraged, or simply not finding the time, contact us. We can help!