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I need to help my Autistic son


rocksolid
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My son is an awful eater. I need to get him to eat something somewhat healthy for school lunch. I want to pack him a grilled cheese sandwich or chicken nuggets in a container without them getting all moist and gross. I was thinking maybe a container that will let me pump the air out of it once it's sealed could work or I was thinking at wrapping some Molecular Sieve to the lid on the inside of the container to absorb the moisture. Do es anybody think this will work and if not does anybody have an idea?

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Yeah, you obviously don't have an Autistic child. Many children have issues with food and eat a limited amount of food variety. Maybe instead of judging you could just offer some help.

 

But he has a good point. The unhealthy part of a chicken nugget is the breading, and that's also the part that gets gross when the moisture from the chicken is absorbed. Perhaps cooking the chicken tenderloins without the breading would solve both issues?

 

Keeping any kind of sandwich fresh is hard. A hot sandwich like a grilled cheese is just never going to be as good cold. If your son likes the cheese and bread part, can you avoid grilling it? Again, that's the part that makes it eventually turn out gross, and the extra oil or butter from grilling isn't healthy, so perhaps that part can be skipped?

 

If you feel the need to put more effort into these meals to make them palatable (you gotta love a parent willing to pump the air out of a container to make a better sandwich for their child), perhaps you could try some artful preparation. I couldn't get my daughter to eat raw carrots or apples until I started cutting them right. She'd ignore an apple until I cut it up in slices, then put it back together minus the center, and call it a puzzle apple (sometimes I put a grape in the center for her to find). I also started cutting little shapes out of other raw veg so it looked like little characters or animals (carrot with shredded hair and a nose with a mouth cutout). If the food captures their attention first, it's easier to get them to eat it. Something I never did (but you should) is take a culinary course in garnishes, and learn how to cut little rosebuds or other cool shapes out of healthy food.

 

I was very proud when I discovered this. Being a guy, I always thought it was stupid when restaurants did that froo-froo garnish you aren't supposed to eat, and I never would have believed there was a practical application for it. But parents learn that anything that puts a smile on a child's face is worth it.

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But he has a good point. The unhealthy part of a chicken nugget is the breading, and that's also the part that gets gross when the moisture from the chicken is absorbed. Perhaps cooking the chicken tenderloins without the breading would solve both issues?

 

Keeping any kind of sandwich fresh is hard. A hot sandwich like a grilled cheese is just never going to be as good cold. If your son likes the cheese and bread part, can you avoid grilling it? Again, that's the part that makes it eventually turn out gross, and the extra oil or butter from grilling isn't healthy, so perhaps that part can be skipped?

 

If you feel the need to put more effort into these meals to make them palatable (you gotta love a parent willing to pump the air out of a container to make a better sandwich for their child), perhaps you could try some artful preparation. I couldn't get my daughter to eat raw carrots or apples until I started cutting them right. She'd ignore an apple until I cut it up in slices, then put it back together minus the center, and call it a puzzle apple (sometimes I put a grape in the center for her to find). I also started cutting little shapes out of other raw veg so it looked like little characters or animals (carrot with shredded hair and a nose with a mouth cutout). If the food captures their attention first, it's easier to get them to eat it. Something I never did (but you should) is take a culinary course in garnishes, and learn how to cut little rosebuds or other cool shapes out of healthy food.

 

I was very proud when I discovered this. Being a guy, I always thought it was stupid when restaurants did that froo-froo garnish you aren't supposed to eat, and I never would have believed there was a practical application for it. But parents learn that anything that puts a smile on a child's face is worth it.

That's good. I think the key is to keep it novel even if it's only with words; inspire their imagination. Eg Beans on toast can be skinheads-on-a-raft.

Edited by StringJunky
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Ok, never mind guys. You are spending too much time trying to tell me how I should be helping my son with his issues. Here's the thing and I am really trying to be nice when I say you have no idea what you are talking about. Have you raised an Autistic child or do you even know one? In my case my son has food phobia's that are not going away so if you can help me with an idea then that is great. If you are planning on offering me advice on how to get my son to eat better or to tell me what a crappy parent I am then don't bother posting. Autistic children are not like a mainstream child and there fore you can not treat them the same.

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Ok, never mind guys. You are spending too much time trying to tell me how I should be helping my son with his issues. Here's the thing and I am really trying to be nice when I say you have no idea what you are talking about. Have you raised an Autistic child or do you even know one? In my case my son has food phobia's that are not going away so if you can help me with an idea then that is great. If you are planning on offering me advice on how to get my son to eat better or to tell me what a crappy parent I am then don't bother posting. Autistic children are not like a mainstream child and there fore you can not treat them the same.

Every autistic child is different and so are their idiosyncrasies. How are we to know your son's unique problems without being informed? We can only guess.

Edited by StringJunky
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The subject line says my son is Autistic and my message says he is a awful eater. That should be enough. I came here with a questions looking to solve an issue and instead I get advice on how to raise my kid......really?? Either answer the question or don't .......yes it's that simple. I love getting schooled about Autism by people who don't know what they are talking about.......... Spend hours trying to teach him how to tie his shoes and still not be able to. Take him to therapy for hrs and hrs to make sure he is able to get by, including food therapy.......do a bunch of things like this and then maybe you could be in a position to school me.....until then please just answer my question or don't bother posting.

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Well, I haven't any kids, but perhaps I have more sympathy than some folk here.

I'm nerdy- by any standards*- and I don't eat fruit, or any veg apart from potatoes, cereals and nuts.

My mum gave up trying to change that when I was about 3 or 4. I'm in my sixth decade, and not dead yet.

 

I can offer a couple of things

One is the evidence that it's possible to stop things turning to mush

http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2011/12/14/143722936/how-the-army-made-a-sandwich-that-stays-fresh-for-two-years

 

The other is that the tubes of vitamin tablets I buy have a "stopper" that contains a desiccant- I'm guessing it's silica gel.

You might be able to "reuse" them to keep stuff crunchy.

I don't know how well it would work- but it's probably worth a try.

 

* For example I remember stories about long life chicken sandwiches from half a decade ago, though I can't remember the names of some of the people with whom I work .

Edited by John Cuthber
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Ok, never mind guys. You are spending too much time trying to tell me how I should be helping my son with his issues. Here's the thing and I am really trying to be nice when I say you have no idea what you are talking about. Have you raised an Autistic child or do you even know one? In my case my son has food phobia's that are not going away so if you can help me with an idea then that is great. If you are planning on offering me advice on how to get my son to eat better or to tell me what a crappy parent I am then don't bother posting. Autistic children are not like a mainstream child and there fore you can not treat them the same.

I can really empathise with you here, while I am not a parent, I have worked with children with additional needs and this is an area where everyone will question your methods and your ability to do a job. I can't begin to understand how painful it must be for you to feel that your methods are doubted.

 

I unfortunately don't have much of a suggestion and perhaps you have tried this. But could your child have a lunch order? If the canteen has a freshly cooked option? Again I am not sure if this is feasible because he may like only a particular brand. Perhaps you could speak to the school canteen staff?

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Have you tried mixing food in blender to create soup.. ?

Soup is better digested, therefor there is needed less than not blended food to get the same amount of kilocalories to organism.

Soup can be kept in thermos to be hot for many hours. Another advantage over solid food.

 

What is BMI of your child? Is it less than 18? 15? If not, your child has enough food for his needs.

BMI = mass/height^2 (mass in kilograms,height in meters). f.e. mass=90kg,height=1.9meters, BMI=90/1.9^2=24.93

<=15 too small, >=25 too large.

~18 optimal for beautiful female,

~23 optimal for athlete male with muscles.

 

Maybe your child does not have food phobia.. Instead he does not like your food?

You should try taking him to various countries restaurants, starting from Asian's (Chinese,Taiwan,Malaysia,India,Vietnamese,Japanese, etc.) to check out how he reacts for such "abnormal" cuisine.

 

Bananas are very nutrient. Mix 4 in blender, put on pancakes for breakfast, smear them, and nearly nobody will be hungry for several hours. No need for additional sugar. Maybe some cinnamon.

 

Blending strawberries with kefir, little sugar, and it's very nutrient and healthy.

Edited by Sensei
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Ok, never mind guys. You are spending too much time trying to tell me how I should be helping my son with his issues. Here's the thing and I am really trying to be nice when I say you have no idea what you are talking about. Have you raised an Autistic child or do you even know one? In my case my son has food phobia's that are not going away so if you can help me with an idea then that is great. If you are planning on offering me advice on how to get my son to eat better or to tell me what a crappy parent I am then don't bother posting. Autistic children are not like a mainstream child and there fore you can not treat them the same.

Lighten up Francis. No one is calling you a crappy parent and no one is doing anything other than trying to help. If you don't like the advice, better to just say 'thanks anyway' and move on. No need to be rude to those who cannot give you the exact advice you want on the first try.
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Reading online, near-toasting the bread is recommended.

 

Desiccants could probably serve. There are reusable commercial options:

 

http://www.amazon.com/Hydrosorbent-OSG-40-Dehumidifier-Desiccant-Chloride/dp/B0037Z8K3E/ref=pd_sbs_328_3?ie=UTF8&dpID=41q34MiDCML&dpSrc=sims&preST=_AC_UL160_SR160%2C160_&refRID=0FYNFGHXXKRYKNYWSM9C

 

and cheaper cat litter, typically wrapped up in a coffee filter.

 

Probably need to experiment a bit and see what works.

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Nobody is trying to tell you how to parent, they're offering you advice on how to prepare healthier and more appealing food varieties.

 

You also said he was an "awful eater", nothing about phobias. Saying someone is an awful eater usually implies that they eat unhealthy stuff, not that have a specific phobia, so don't overreact to a simple misunderstanding.

 

Without knowing the exact range and nature of his phobia, it's going to be very difficult to offer any useful advice.

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Have you tried mixing food in blender to create soup.. ?

Soup is better digested, therefor there is needed less than not blended food to get the same amount of kilocalories to organism.

Soup can be kept in thermos to be hot for many hours. Another advantage over solid food.

 

What is BMI of your child? Is it less than 18? 15? If not, your child has enough food for his needs.

BMI = mass/height^2 (mass in kilograms,height in meters). f.e. mass=90kg,height=1.9meters, BMI=90/1.9^2=24.93

<=15 too small, >=25 too large.

~18 optimal for beautiful female,

~23 optimal for athlete male with muscles.

 

Maybe your child does not have food phobia.. Instead he does not like your food?

You should try taking him to various countries restaurants, starting from Asian's (Chinese,Taiwan,Malaysia,India,Vietnamese,Japanese, etc.) to check out how he reacts for such "abnormal" cuisine.

 

Bananas are very nutrient. Mix 4 in blender, put on pancakes for breakfast, smear them, and nearly nobody will be hungry for several hours. No need for additional sugar. Maybe some cinnamon.

 

Blending strawberries with kefir, little sugar, and it's very nutrient and healthy.

 

 

Sensei, I don't think it's very fair to comment that her child doesn't like her food rather than having a food phobia. One of my best friends from high school has a child with very similar phobias and I've become fairly informed through her about the generalities of children with autism. It really has nothing to do with just not liking her food, he just simply won't eat anything. He's almost 4, goes to 2 or 3 different types of therapy for his autism (including food therapy, which the OP mentioned), and literally the only solid food he'll eat that doesn't result in a complete meltdown is M&M's. He still lives off his bottle. I've known others who at 8 would only eat fries.

 

It is hard - really hard - to try and manage a child who has these sorts of conditions. You have to work with what you've got. Rocksolid, I am sorry that you felt people were judging your parenting style. Please know however that they come from a place of wanting to help, not criticise you. I can empathise with your frustration. I am sure that you have been dealing with it for many years and tried many things to help your son eat better. I don't have a lot of advice for your specific issue. One possibility I thought of, which may or may not be possible, is to ask if the school would grill the sandwiches for you if you provided them with a cheap sandwich press? The might be fairly accommodating for you given your son's condition.

Nobody is trying to tell you how to parent, they're offering you advice on how to prepare healthier and more appealing food varieties.

 

You also said he was an "awful eater", nothing about phobias. Saying someone is an awful eater usually implies that they eat unhealthy stuff, not that have a specific phobia, so don't overreact to a simple misunderstanding.

 

Without knowing the exact range and nature of his phobia, it's going to be very difficult to offer any useful advice.

 

She also said he was autistic, which I understand is a varied condition, but surely the link between the poor eating and the autism was pretty heavily implied? Moreover, she wasn't asking for advice on how to fix his eating, so you hardly need to know about the specifics of the phobia. All she wanted to know was how best to stop certain food items from going soggy.

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There was also an implication of wanting to encourage him to eat something that's somewhat healthy, which a few posts have tried to address, and got criticized for their trouble.

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Sensei, I don't think it's very fair to comment that her child doesn't like her food rather than having a food phobia. One of my best friends from high school has a child with very similar phobias and I've become fairly informed through her about the generalities of children with autism.

But not everyone has the experience you and rocksolid have. I find it unacceptable to ask a stranger for advice, then criticize them because they do not have the background to give advice that is useful to you.

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But not everyone has the experience you and rocksolid have. I find it unacceptable to ask a stranger for advice, then criticize them because they do not have the background to give advice that is useful to you.

I get that, but in fairness, much of the advice given was related to a single comment in the OP rather than the actual question. I suppose being more familiar with what she is going through I am more forgiving of her reaction. Consider that she has probably been at her wit's end with this issue for many years, and tried many avenues to get her son to eat better. It's not hard to imagine that in her shoes, you might also be touchy about strangers stepping in and giving advice you weren't necessarily asking for.

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I get that, but in fairness, much of the advice given was related to a single comment in the OP rather than the actual question. I suppose being more familiar with what she is going through I am more forgiving of her reaction. Consider that she has probably been at her wit's end with this issue for many years, and tried many avenues to get her son to eat better. It's not hard to imagine that in her shoes, you might also be touchy about strangers stepping in and giving advice you weren't necessarily asking for.

Probably the best thing to do is rewind and start again.

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I get that, but in fairness, much of the advice given was related to a single comment in the OP rather than the actual question. I suppose being more familiar with what she is going through I am more forgiving of her reaction. Consider that she has probably been at her wit's end with this issue for many years, and tried many avenues to get her son to eat better. It's not hard to imagine that in her shoes, you might also be touchy about strangers stepping in and giving advice you weren't necessarily asking for.

She accused people of "judging" her, calling her a "crappy parent", telling her how to "raise her kid", and then "schooling" her "about autism". No one here did any of that. All she had to do was give a short explanation like you did.

 

And strangers didn't "step in", they were invited in.

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She accused people of "judging" her, calling her a "crappy parent", telling her how to "raise her kid", and then "schooling" her "about autism". No one here did any of that. All she had to do was give a short explanation like you did.

 

And strangers didn't "step in", they were invited in.

I think you've missed my point. I happen to agree with what you've said, I was just trying to shed light on her position and why she might have reacted as she did. I would like to leave this part of be conversation here, in any case.

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