SATURDAY, Feb. 9 (HealthDay News) — Children with autism are five times more likely than other kids to have feeding issues, such as being especially picky eaters or having ritualistic behaviors or extreme tantrums during meals, new research finds.
This was very true of Rob. He had sensory issues with eating, mostly due to texture and smell, and tended to tantrum at the table and refuse to eat. My husband got so frustrated that at times he was tempted to try to force Rob to eat, which of course never went well. We ended up seeing a feeding specialist who gave us the following suggestions.
Outside of mealtimes:
- become aware of what kinds of tastes/smells/textures your child prefers or can tolerate, and any that he really can’t stand.
- Work on his tolerating stimulation in the mouth: give him drinks with a straw to work the sucking/swallowing muscles. Chewing gum helps too (avoid strong flavors at first).
- If toothbrushing is a problem, try rubbing his gums instead (or having him rub them) with a cloth. Sometimes the interest in an electric toothbrush or waterpic will outweigh the annoyance of the sensations. Some kids can’t tolerate the strong peppermint taste of toothpaste; try other flavors.
- Get him to try a tongue scraper (let him use it himself) so he can try to learn to tolerate stimulation without inducing the gag reflex.
- Try new taste challenges away from the dinner table, so the social pressure to behave well is removed. Remember it takes NT kids several times to acquire a taste for a food; it may take even longer for our kids.