Support Your Child With Autism Trying New Foods
Children can often be picky eaters. However, children with autism and related disorders may find it even more difficult than most to expand their palate and try new foods, even as they grow older. This is due to a variety of reasons:
- They enjoy following a strict routine, therefore would prefer to eat the same meals each day.
- They are dealing with sensory issues, and may not like the texture of certain foods/groups of foods.
- They feel uncomfortable when asked to try something new.
Nevertheless, you must find a way to help your child follow a healthy lifestyle. A healthy lifestyle encompasses a wide range of topics, from regular exercise to positive social interactions, but also includes a balanced diet containing a wide variety of food. With that in mind, here are 4 tips for helping your child try new foods!
1. Start small
If your child is a fussy eater, it is important that you don’t overwhelm that by introducing too many new things at once. In fact, this may have the opposite effect than you intend and may lead to them refusing to eat. Instead, introduce small changes over time. For example, add a slightly different seasoning to your dish, or try a new sauce over your pasta. With this method, you will be able to introduce entirely new dishes over time.
2. Add a new side-dish to their favorite meal
If your child has a favorite meal, they will likely to forward to getting to eat – whether that means some chicken nuggets or delicious mac and cheese. A great way of encouraging them to try new things is to add a side-dish to their favorite meal. Ideally, this should only take up a small portion of the plate so that they only have to try a few bites to begin with. Once they feel comfortable, you can increase the portion size.
3. Involve them in the process
A great way to get your child excited about trying new foods is by involving them in the process of cooking/baking. This is a great way for them to develop functional life skills, whilst pushing them outside of their comfort zone when they try the food they make. Often, children with autism and related disorders don’t like the idea of the unknown – having them in the kitchen whilst you are cooking is a great way to take away this fear in relation to food. They know exactly what they are about to eat!
4. Seek further advice
If you are struggling to help your child diversify their taste buds, you may wish to speak to a licensed therapist who can provide you with expert advice and help put a plan in place for you and your child. At Alee behavioral, we have years of combined experience in helping children with autism and related disorders reach their full potential in all aspects of life through offering a range of programs, including applied behavior analysis, speech therapy, and occupational therapy.