Research reveals that about 80% of autistic children are selective regarding food. Your child might have problems chewing or swallowing foods, refuse to eat food they have eaten in the recent past, refuse to touch certain utensils and foods or have a challenge sitting with the family for dinner. They might not also like the texture of certain foods, causing them to become picky eaters. Fortunately, this article will help you figure out how to help your autistic child overcome picky eating.
Schedule their meals regularly
Autistic children thrive in an environment where they know what to expect. Ensure you formulate a regular meal schedule and try as much as possible to be consistent. If your child is used to eating their meals in the living room with the TV on, it would be best to slowly introduce them to a designated area to eat meals as a family.
Encourage your child to eat cruciferous vegetables
Cruciferous vegetables contain a chemical known as sulforaphane, which improves social and behavioral scores in autistic children. Examples of cruciferous vegetables include Brussels sprouts, broccoli, kale, cauliflower, and cabbage. These foods are also rich in vitamins and minerals, which are ideal for the growth and development of your child.
Avoid being dependent on one brand
Your child might enjoy eating one specific brand of food. However, your child might develop brand dependency and refuse to eat anything else. It would be best to avoid serving food directly from the box and switch brands to prevent the development of brand dependency.
Work with a professional
Overcoming picky eating in your autistic child on your own might be pretty challenging. We recommend working with your pediatrician and nutritionist to determine how best to improve your child’s diet. For instance, if you are in Huston, you can seek eating disorder treatment Texas. A qualified professional can help your child become more willing to try new foods.
Praise your child for good behaviors
It is easy to focus on your child’s disruptive behaviors during mealtime, causing both of you to be frustrated and irritated. Instead, it would be best to get your child to talk about how they feel about their food. Please focus on the positive behaviors by praising them whenever they maintain a good posture or willingly try a portion of new food.
Allow your child to play with their food
The goal is to get your autistic child to interact with their food as much as possible. When you encourage your child to play with their food and make fun shapes, you motivate them to try new foods. We also recommend involving them in meal preps and cooking.
The key to helping your child overcome picky eating is to be patient and to remember you are not alone. Working with an expert will help you maneuver your child’s behavioral patterns and offer them a healthy balanced diet that will help them grow. It would also be best to visit the doctor to rule out any stomach problems that would cause discomfort when your child eats.