Tuesday, January 19, 2010

What's for dinner?

I am sure that I have written about food before. Frankly, I'm feeling too lazy to look back and see what words of wisdom I have spouted. Those of us with children "on the spectrum", or if they are on the spectrum and probably anyone who spends time with kids on the spectrum, know that food is a hurdle. It's rough. The desires, the textures, the "diets". They can run our lives.

The Sneathen's have never done "the diet". I am constantly asked if Daniel is on the gluten free/casein free diet (GF/CF). He is not. He is almost on a self imposed casein free diet (dairy for those unschooled). He used to drink milk when he was a toddler. He drank milk, ate grilled cheese, put cheese on his beloved hamburgers. He slowly phased this out of his life. First he cut milk. Then stopped the grilled cheeses and eventually, as happens with him, he stopped the cheese on the hamburger after an unfortunate incident in a Johnny Rockets. He saw the stringy cheese on his burger and started gagging profusely. I was sure he'd throw up on the table, but we got it away from him fast enough and the gagging ceased. That was it for cheese. That is usually the way a food disappears. He will go along eating it and one day it will make him gag or even throw up and it's gone. That's what happened to oatmeal. He ate it every day for months and months then one day he took a bite, calmly stood, walked to the bathroom, threw up and has never eaten it again. I find it only slightly gross and even more fascinating. It's not even usually a spectacle, he just pukes and says he's done. Weird.

Cheese is on his list of "hates". Now that I'm writing this, I do realize I have written about pizza, which is where I'm going with this. In the past year or two he has wanted to eat pizza. I find this to be a positive, since generally, pizza is associated with being social as a teen. You have a party, hang with friends, and pizza is sure to be involved. He nibbles on it like the squirrels in our back yard who have been eating our gingerbread house. Tiny tiny bites, very slowly. His pizza consumption has been limited to Little Caesars because there is hardly any cheese on it. It is a widely chosen pizza for parties, because around here you can get a large pepperoni for $5. They call it "Hot and Ready", which I never really thought about the suggestive nature of that tag line, but you can walk into a Little Caesars, pay $5 and walk out with it immediately. Hence the "ready" part. It's a good deal. Not the greatest pizza, but great for parties. Daniel nibbles away and tentatively asks, "is it just dough?" He is asking if the cheese is dough. He has convinced himself this is the case, and frankly I don't fight it. I smile and nod and he goes along with it. Todd and I are sure he actually knows it's cheese, but is the classic case of not thinking about what you are actually eating. It's just easier that way.

I, of course, realize pizza isn't the healthiest of foods and that many many people with autistic children are trying to get their kids OFF of dairy. But for some reason, I would like to add pizza to his limited repertoire. Daniel, actually does well with his "sides". He will eat as much broccoli, green beans, and carrots as you'll put in front of him. Same with pears, bananas, cantaloupe and watermelon. He'll eat "salad" which for him is plain romaine lettuce. He'll also eat other green vegetables but not with as much enthusiasm as broccoli and green beans. Our main food problem is his lack of variety with an entree. He will only eat a hamburger (plain) and a brat (but barely) and blueberry waffles (plain). That's it. So it would be nice, if we are away from home if the kid would eat a slice. He is getting so big (5'7" and 170 pounds), he's a teenage boy, and he needs a LOT of food. I'm trying to increase the fruits and vegetables, but that only goes far.

Last night, I ordered a pizza. He has his speech social group from 5:30 - 6:30 and it seriously cuts into dinner time. I, personally, could eat pizza all day every day. Marco's, is my pizza of choice right now. It is GOOD, but well, cheesy. Which to me, is a good thing. I ordered at the end of group and drove over and picked it up on the way home. Daniel was commenting in the car how delicious it smelled. He had already eaten some before group, he can't make it that late, so he had waffles, pretzels and a huge pile of carrots. (gluten gluten gluten). At home, I opened the box, and Daniel was still hovered over it. I asked him if he'd like a piece. He never had Marcos before (since there is you know, more cheese on it). He very enthusiastically asked for some. This is how the conversation went:

Daniel (taking a bite)-Does this have cheese?

Me- Yum, isn't that good?

Daniel - Is it just dough?

Me- smile like an idiot.

Daniel- (still nibbling) Are these strings, CHEESE?

Me- What do think? (The classic parental reflecting)

Daniel-It's fine.

I'm not sure if the, "it's fine" means it's ok if it's cheese or that it tasted fine. But I for one, try to avoid lying. It doesn't go over well with him and I'm leaving it up to him to figure it out. My husband was in the next room with our other sick kid laughing at my avoidance of the questions and Daniel's constant questions. When he finished his slice he said, "that was good", cleared his things from the table and walked away. I'm considering it a positive. Except for the fact that I have to share. I'm not a great sharer to be honest with you, but I'm willing, to make an exception!

I feel like the gluten free thing is knocking on my door again. We have a Dr. coming to speak at a parent group. I can't attend due to a meeting for my new advocate job. But it keeps coming up over and over lately. A sign or just coincidence? Why do I feel some guilt about not giving this a go? Who's tried it? Did it help? I'd like some feed back. In the mean time, I'm going to heat up my pizza for lunch.


JoyMama said...

We haven't been particularly tempted to "do the diet" here. My take is, in the absence of anything that points in the direction of a food allergy (colicky baby, rashes, poop issues, etc), it doesn't make a lot of sense to me to go treating a food allergy. And then there was the consensus statement that came out in Pediatrics earlier this month, saying that there wasn't sufficient evidence to support using "the diet" as a primary treatment for autism...

The guilt thing is tough to shake, isn't it?! :-(

Michelle S. said...

I really haven't been too tempted either. The only thing that bugs me is at one point we cut corn out (popcorn, and tortilla chips primarily) bc he craved them all the time and seemed to cause bowel issues. His behaviors signifiantly decreased after that, because his tummy wasn't in pain anymore (and ofcourse he couldn't tell us that) I also wouldn't expect a "curing" in any way. But some have reported that their childs eating preferences widened after "the diet"...which is more what I'd be after. But like I said, he does pretty well with fruits and veggies...why am I arguing with myself?

mama edge said...

Meh. If I removed the G and C from the boys' diets, they'd be down to water and meat. At least I can hide veggies and fruits in the flour (pumpkin bread, tomato sauce on pizza).

I'm with JoyMama. The science doesn't support the diet, so I don't sweat it anymore.

Tanya @ TeenAutism said...

We tried GF/CF when Nigel was five, and he actually regressed. To this day I think that's why he's such a big cheese eater (because I wouldn't let him have it for two months). I really have to ration the cheese around here, or he will overdo it. Funny that he and Daniel are different in that area, since they have a lot of other similarities.

Alyse Sandborn said...

Hi Michelle, I really enjoy reading your blog - it makes me feel like I am there. I especially love when you include dialog and your descriptions. Have you noticed just how many new things Daniel has done this year?