Trying to get any child to eat can be tricky. Picky eating is a phase all children go through at some point. While most parents experience this phase, for some of us parents it is not a phase but a lifestyle.
Having four children, I have experienced picky eating galore. Having two children with autism taught me quickly that there was a whole different type of picky eating. I don’t even say my dynamic duo are picky eaters. I now say they have many food aversions.
I know semantics. But here’s the deal. If I say “picky eater”, I get lots of advice. I get parents who want to share the tricks of their trades. Those amazing tips that worked miracles for them. When I politely try to explain what picky eating is at our house, I get the greatest advice ever:
They will eat when they are hungry.
No, they won’t. We actually had to take our one kiddo to the doctor because after vomiting she would not eat at all. Nothing at all. She was so hungry but wouldn’t eat. So that great old adage does not hold true. It really doesn’t.
While I do think most people’s advice is meant to be from a good place, I noticed something. The minute I say something that opposes their advice, I’m the bad guy. ME! Did I mention that most of the time, I wasn’t even asking for advice?? I was just reciprocating a conversation. Ya know, just saying what’s going on at my house.
I found that if I say “food aversion” it is taken more seriously. It’s not just a kid being a kid. It’s a kid that has autism trying to figure out what they can handle eating. Then (sometimes) I can engage in a serious educational conversation about how eating (for them) is so much more than popping some food in their mouth. There’s colors, textures, smells, shapes (yes shapes! it’s what they see), etc. There is so much more at work in their mind then just the need to eat.
Switching out two words (picky eater) for two other words (food aversions) has made spreading autism awareness a little easier for me.