Many kids on the spectrum are on limited diets -- the most common of which is the gluten free-casein free (no wheat or milk products) diet. We had Alan tested for wheat and milk allergies when we tried the biomedical treatments and the results were that he was moderately allergic to milk but not at all allergic to wheat. So we tried to eliminate milk from his diet. The only problem with that was that milk was the only source of protein in his entire diet. We tried rice and soy and he wouldn't drink them. He has never let us put flavoring of any sort in his milk so we couldn't even try to hide the flavor in chocolate milk. Score: Alan 1, Parents 0
We next tried to eliminate lactose from his diet. This did work. Dairy Ease or Lactaid both taste close enough to regular milk that we can get him to drink those with relative ease. This seemed to end his chronic (albeit intermittent) diarrhea. Alan 1, Parents 1
We took him to "picky eaters" food class near home. This was at a local organization that was specifically for children with autism. He lasted two classes before the OT asked us to please not bring him back. Alan 2, Parents 1
Next we tried taking him to a local OT center that specializes in sensory problems and has several people that deal specifically with broadening a child's palette. The entire center has supposedly done wonders for so many local kids. We had three different OTs work with Alan for almost a year (driving 20-30 minutes each way) and all they managed was to get him to touch certain undesired foods to his tongue. He would not go the further step of holding the food in his mouth and they (somewhat reluctantly) admitted defeat. Alan 3, Parents 1
"So what does he drink?" you might ask. If left to his own devices he would only drink soda. Sigh. So we give him a small cup of soda and an equal sized cup of lactose free milk. He usually drinks the soda and the milk sits on the table until he wants more soda and then he will finally drink the milk. Sigh. I am not sure who wins in this one so we will keep the score the same. Alan 3, Parents 1
"So what does he eat?" you might ask. Basically we give him four foods at a time.
- a favorite (either Oreo cookies, a Poptart with the edges broken off or a cereal bar which we had to stop giving him when we finally figured out that the only kind he would eat were Cinnamon Toast Crunch milk and cereal bars and that was causing problems)
- a fruit -- usually apples but occasionally he will let us give him purple seedless grapes (no green or even red)
- a bowl of something -- white cheddar or cheese popcorn, corn puffs, rice cakes (cheddar or ranch only) Cocoa Puffs or Honey Nut Cheerios
- animal crackers
What about when we go out to eat? He will eat French fries and he will drink soda and that is it. Alan 4, Parents 1
What about vitamins or supplements? We had him on Juice Plus for several years. He took the gummies quite willingly for a long time. Then he started pushing them to the back of his throat and gagging himself with them and we had to take him off them. Luckily we did have a wonderful SLP a few years ago that taught him how to swallow pills. In fact, he is the best in the family now at swallowing pills. He will put his entire fist of medicine in his mouth and then chug a glass of water and they all go down. Another tie. Alan 4, Parents 1
Several experts in the field have told me that no child will starve themselves to death and that is probably true. However, when the alternative is to have a knock down, drag out fight with an incredibly stubborn young man who can make the whole house miserable -- is it really so awful that he eats popcorn for breakfast?