Sunday, September 14, 2008

Food Glorious Food

For a parent with a child on the autism spectrum you only have to say the word "food" and that parent will start twitching. It is a source of torture. What do they say (whoever they are)? That for a "regular" kid you have to present a new food to them, I don't remember, 50 times before they may try it? OK maybe not that long. But my perspective on this topic went out the window a loooonnngg time ago. Whatever the number is you must have to multiply it by 100, at least, for a child with autism. Daniel's food repertoire is very limited. For those who are earlier in this process of autism, the only thing I can say is keep trying. Daniel turns 12 next month (what?!?) and in the past few years his vegetable intake has increased dramatically. It took only what, 8 or 9 YEARS. But it happened. That sums up the lives of people living with autism. Slow but sure, try try again. It all fits.

What I'm getting to is pizza. Ahhhh pizza. It's a food that I could eat, pretty much at every meal and be perfectly happy. Maybe 100 pounds heavier, but happy. I don't get sick of it. Ever. Now Daniel has a thing about cheese. He has since about age 3. That is when a lot of his food habits changed. Dramatically. But at a young age I made him macaroni and cheese. Every kid likes that right? I put it in front of him and he started gagging. Immediately. I quickly swept it away and never did that again. We don't eat it either, but I was trying to find SOMETHING he'd eat. That is sort of opposite most kids with autism. A lot of them that I've encountered live on mac and cheese. Not us.

I have been giving Daniel "my crusts" when I eat pizza for a long time. He loves the bread. He would inspect it very carefully to make sure there was nothing that resembled cheese on that crust. Then eat it. Well, last week at our neighborhood picnic someone brought 2 pizzas. I grabbed him a piece and put it on his plate. Try try again, right? All he had eaten thus far was cantaloupe, watermelon, chocolate chip cookies and brownies. He won't eat hot dogs, which were being grilled by a neighbor. He did at one point, but that is long gone. I handed him his plate and walked away. I came back to find out he ate it. The whole thing! Now I know he would never eat a pizza that was really cheesy. Those long strings of cheese would send him running from the room. But a cheap $5 pizza that barely has any cheese. He seems to be accepting. He had pizza for lunch yesterday. He asked for it again today. He is trying to eat it right now as a I type but he is barely getting it down. It doesn't seem to be going well. He keeps saying "it's just dough". Trying to convince himself there is no cheese. I haven't said there is or there isn't. I just smile. I am so desperate for an alternative. I don't even care if it is healthy.

Currently he eats; a plain hamburger, a brat, or plain waffles (a very specific kind you understand?) Granted he may have a variety of fruits with it. Or he'll eat green beans, broccoli, carrots, corn on the cob, a "salad" (it is actually a bowl of plain romaine lettuce). I try to balance the fattening foods with the good ones. As much as possible. But pizza is accessible. If you are on vacation, you can find it places. It would give us some small amount of flexibility. At least with him. I still have Zachary who is allergic to milk and eggs. Try feeding him at a restaurant!

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