Figuring out what I wanna be when I grow up.
Oop..I AM grown up...

Saturday, January 28, 2012

This Food Thing Is Going to Break Me

Hey there! If it weren't for YOU, my son might actually STARVE TO DEATH!  Hooray!
We buy at least 4 of these per week....for now.  AWESOME.

I've lamented/whined/complained NUMEROUS times about the state of my son's eating.  I have a list of various posts I was particularly ranty in, which you can find HERE, in case others of you out there need to feel like you're not alone in the great JUST F*CKING EAT battle.

I know when a food is on its way out.  When Jack started complaining about the consistency of the cheese in his cheese sandwich, I knew that sandwich's days were numbered.

When Jack started getting really picky about little blobs of jam in his peanut butter sandwich, I knew time was running out for jam.  Then when he started freaking if peanut butter came over the borders of the bread, I became more nervous.  Then when I had to start putting them in the fridge to firm up for a while before he ate them, I knew it wasn't good.  And when he started freaking that little bits of bread were getting mixed in with the peanut butter, I had a mental going away party for the peanut butter sandwich.

The same goes for instant cinnamon flavoured oatmeal.  Jack started leaving half of it in the bowl.  I hope he's just taking a break from it.  Luckily he's eating apple cinnamon flavour, but since he already burnt himself out on that one and ditto for "maple and brown sugar," I know it's just a matter of time.

So the only thing that's REALLY been keeping the kid going is f*cking cinnamon raisin toast.  Oh, and not just any brand will do.  We have to buy the most expensive one of all:  the SUNMAID brand, which is around 4 bucks a bag.

The most galling part is, that by the time Jack has pulled off the crusts, and pulled off any other parts he has somehow arbitrarily deemed as INEDIBLE, he has a PLATE FULL of bread that goes into the organics bin.  I.E; GIGANTIC WASTE.

So lately, when I've lifted up untouched, perfectly fine pieces from his plate for question, Jack has insisted LOUDLY;


Oh great.  There's something wrong with the "small pieces" now.  I'm getting worried.  Very worried.

But here is the best, best thing of all:  Jack is now freaked by the way I eat.  Me.  Me in particular.  Me, who always chews with mouth closed, as is supposedly proper.

It started as the Christmas break was winding to a close.  You know--filling little Auties everywhere with near-crippling dread?  One day I was eating something and talking at the same time.  Jack got upset and insisted he be allowed to eat his lunch or dinner in the dining room, not the kitchen.


Talking in my mouth?!?  What the HELL does that mean?  You know, as a parent with a kid on the spectrum, you soon learn that they have more creative ways of describing things, and you have to be a FREAKING DETECTIVE sometimes to figure out just what the hell they are talking about before they actually COMBUST.


So, I figured that talking in my mouth actually meant "talking with food in my mouth."  Damn it, as far as family etiquette is concerned, I don't care who the eff is talking with food in his/her mouth. If their mouths are super crammed and it makes their talking muffled, or if I can really see what's in someone's mouth while he/she yaps, okay, then maybe that's a problem.

Okay, so he was freaking out about people talking with food in their mouths.  All of a sudden.  Out of nowhere.  Fine, fine, these OCD things are the manifestations of great anxiety, and a need to buckle down as only a control freak can.

But it's gotten worse.  He can hardly eat at the table with me.  And I've mostly stopped talking while I'm eating, because let's admit it--we can't help being molded by our kids' idiosyncrasies just so we can have some damn peace.

But Jack?  Well, Jack hates the way I CHEW now.

Jack:  "Mom, why do you chew like THIS?"  (imitates a closed mouth chewing motion)

Me:  "I don't know?!?  That's how I eat!  Teeth have to come up and down to grind food."

Jack:  "but I wish you wouldn't chew like THIS:"  mimics a chewing motion that involves the front teeth predominately.

I don't quite know what to do about this.  It's making me feel self-conscious as hell, and I don't know how long before this neurosis carries over to the classroom lunch session.  Right now, I've decided that I won't let him leave the room and eat by himself, because the best way to overcome a phobia is to confront it all the time.

Actually, my stomach is in knots over this, and I'm having a hard time even writing about it.

I have to find some kind of food therapist for the kid before he winds up like this:

oh the horror....



  1. i wish i had an idea that would make this easier for you guys, but i am just not that creative...i will keep pondering,maybe i will come up with a great idea.

    1. thanks Paula, it's an ongoing issue that drives me CRAZY.

  2. Oh gosh. Food and auties. My guy is 12 and my predominant concern about him from 18 months old til diagnosis at 4 was not his lack of speech or tantrums etc it was his lack of eating!! I obsessed about it and I would have those tummy knots just before meal times ie meal refusal time. It may have been 8 -1o years ago but I still remember them clearly. He was so thin.

    I'm actually impressed with the range of foods your guy eats!! It's only in the last 4 years that my guy has improved dramatically and can tolerate butter on bread and then ham on it. It's only 2 months since he started eating jam!!

    But I hear your concern, loud and clear. I know how they go 'off' foods. Looking back now I relate his food issues to anxiety ones. As interventions helped him cope with everything else in his life so did his eating improved. Or so it seems to me...

    Hope my rant is helpful!!

    xx Jazzy

    1. actually Jazzy, those are the foods he USED to eat. The list is getting smaller and smaller and smaller! I do hope for Jack, that like your son, he'll improve--even if it's years down the line!

  3. In regards to food... he would PROBABLY benefit from working with some sort of food therapist. Or I would maybe try that reward system again. I've seen him in action, so I know it's no easy task. Dr. Spock made a point of saying to leave the picky eater be. Don't make a big fuss... don't use bribes or punishments.. if all the kid wants is toast then so be it... he'll out grow it eventually. However! What about a child on the spectrum???

    As for the OCD, that's a bigger problem as I see it. The anxieties he's dealing with must make him feel tormented a good majourity of the time. Typically one with OCD would go to therapy to OVERCOME to fear of anxieties. It's not the THING that makes him freak out so much... it's the FEELINGS of the anxiety itself that rules those who suffer OCD... best therapy is to confront the anxiety itself... if you're afraid of dogs, then you must subject yourself to hanging out with dogs .. then overtime you learn how to deal with the fears and anxieties. You learn that anxiety doesn't kill you, though it feels like it does. But once again... is this the right therapy for a CHILD on the spectrum? I would think so... but I could be wrong.


    1. yeah, thanks Nerdo. The reason I'm making him CONFRONT his fears of people chewing and eating is because of your knowledge on phobias! Har har.

      Yeah, I don't know what one does as far as Autism is concerned.

  4. I'll have to think on this as I'm hiding from my son because we just finished dinner and he's all bent because his pizza had some cheese on it. Imagine that. His pizza should never (ever,ever,ever) have cheese on it. Ever. And it has to be a certain brand crust I make (of course) and a certain sauce.

    Is it the sound that's bothering him? The chewing noises? Alex's is super sensitive to sound...maybe thats it? Maybe try headsets at dinner???

    Maybe sit with him while he eats and you eat a few minutes later? Just at first...see if it wains if you are just sitting and not eating.

    It may be visual too---seeing food in someone's mouth may be setting him off. Maybe tell him you'll never open your mouth with food in it? Sounds stupid I know, but he may be getting worked up with the fear of seeing it.

    I don't know Karen, I'm grasping at straws here thinking what would work with my son. I'll op back and see what you write and see if I can think some more on this.

    Hugs in the meantime.

    1. Lizbeth--so funny: Jack can never have ANY toppings on his pizza (except sauce) and he will ONLY eat it if it's from Dominos. That is it, that is all.

      That's a really good idea to get a headset for dinner, and another good suggestion about me sitting with him and eating when he's finished.

      Thanks, I appreciate your brainstorming very much!!!

  5. This has left me speechless. Hang in there. I don't have much to say but have much empathy.........

  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. no need to have removed your comment, Was Once :) I appreciated your input, and I'm always open to some good discussion! Thanks for reading and weighing in, even if you may have worried about offending me?

      Anyhow, here's a really good blog post you might want to check out. It really nails just how ridiculously hard it is to feed some of these kids on the Spectrum:

  7. Oh, dear lady:

    I wish I could tell you it gets better.

    Wait, maybe it does for some.

    Not in my case: our eating world has gotten even smaller.

    The consistency,smell, color, temperature: my guy better grow up and be a chef/slave to his own idiosyncracies cuz ain't no man good looking enough on earth to put up with this wackadoodle stuff.

    Good luck. I'm always here to listen.

    LOVED this post.

    1. thanks Ms. Alexandra, you have nailed it, re; consistency, smell, colour, temperature--it's everything!

      Last night Jack GAGGED while eating a bite of cinnamon toast. That ain't good.

  8. This comment has been removed by the author.

  9. Hey once was. I think you kinda missed the point she's dealing with a kid with special needs.......

    1. I didn't see the comment by Was Once, but I know him on the internet, and he is a lovely person. I'm sorry if something he said didn't seem helpful. It's like, we all need to be easy on each other, don't we? It's all such a pain in the ass.

    2. I saw the comment, and it wasn't offensive to me. The gist was the basic idea we have all heard or grown up with, or been urged to adhere to: let them go hungry and when they're hungry enough, they will eat.

      This is a logical idea, but not when dealing with children who defy "logic" as we know it.

      This is actually good, because more people will become aware over time that it's not just a matter of letting these kids go hungry until THEY choose to eat. If the food doesn't meet the right requirements, they will NEVER choose to eat! I truly believe that.

  10. I was going to say, it is vital that you find ways to detach from Jack's actions other than killing him. Yes, that's my sense of humor. But it's true. It's bad news for both of you if he pushes you over the line.

    If sounds are a problem to him, have you tried those little husher foam rubber things? I thought of this before and meant to recommend it when you explained how he dreads the school bell. The OCD aspect of him will not want to try something new, but you could demonstrate on yourself and then leave it to him completely, just let him know it's there on his dresser.

    1. good suggestions Jeanne, thanks. Lizbeth also suggested getting him headphones. So, same good direction of thinking.

      Oh, I know I should not make an issue of it. I try so hard not to, and then there'll be a day when the kid has the darkest burgundy circles under his eyes, looks pasty and worn out and it's because he's eaten NEXT TO NOTHING that day. That hits a mother right at her CAREGIVER core!

  11. you have to be sensitive to him & his issues, but at the same time, he can't control you. you are his mom & you need to eat. and you can't be shunned from eating in his presence just because he's decided that your eating bothers him. if you could figure out specifically what it is that bothers him about it, maybe you could make some adjustments without letting him control the situation. if it's the noise, maybe playing music during meals will help. if it's seeing your mouth, maybe you could sit beside him so he's not facing straight toward you.
    they have a way of making you so self-conscious, don't they? brooke will stare straight at my face when i'm reading to her sometimes & i know something bad is coming. my chin is bulbous, my nose is shiny, my zits are ugly, my mole bothers her, my teeth are odd, my lips look slimey. the list of problems on my face are endless for her. i've explained that it hurts my feelings when she says those things & finally she's mostly stopped saying them. now she just stares & i can tell she's thinking something but not saying it. sometimes that is worse.

    1. I'm laughing, but I'm sympathizing. That is so true--they speak bluntly don't they???

      Good point about the dinner thing. I think it's the sound of my chewing that bothers him. Maybe I'll take Lizbeth's advice and get him some headphones!

      I hate it when the kids in the past have patted my stomach and informed me that I have a big tummy. That never goes over well.

  12. Can one of you spectrum mothers explain to me what is the difference between a say "regular" child and a spectrum kid that makes this different? I mean my kids did all that stuff it just the endless obsession? Do they not have an off button? Or just to be really curious is it a matter of just control? Please help me understand. Not to diminish at all what you deal with, but, what would be the difference between my child who ENDLESSLY ENDLESSLY POUNDED me to get her own way?

    1. Melissa, that is an excellent point, and you've raised some really good questions. My daughter is SUPER STUBBORN, but I guess the difference is she won't hold on to something for YEARS, and she won't bite us or attack us or do some non-stop shrieking.

      Other kids have anxiety, but when spectrum kids including Aspergers get anxiety, they might be more likely to throw up from it, or get lots of involuntary tics and twitches, or start flapping their limbs.

      I will ponder this some more. Here is a really good blog post that talks about Sunday's experiences with her kids and eating problems:

      It really hits the nail on the head

    2. karen, i was about to give a link to jillsmo's blog too. she does a good job covering what's the difference between when other kids do it & when spectrum kids do it.
      and purely for informational purposes, the new catch phrase for "normal/regular" people (when being compared to spectrum folks) is NT which stands for neurotypical. as in, their brain is wired in the typical, non-spectrumy way.
      melissa, i think it's the level of intensity & frequency that makes it worse. i've said many times that any of brooke's issues in isolation just equate a normal kid thing, but when you put them all together to get the complete picture of brooke, it's more than just some quirks. it's a pattern of endless obessesions and anxiety and intense freakouts way past the age when kids should be freaking out. it's dentist appointments where they clear the calendar when they see your kid's name on the schedule because they know your kid is going to scream bloody murder & try to beat up the dentist, so any kid in the building will be mentally scarred, plus all the staff will be needed to hold your kid down.
      it's needing to double and triple check to make sure you have whatever the beloved item is before going anywhere because if it's not there when it's needed, your day is going to go straight to the pit. and no amount of discipline of cajoling or bribing or logic will make the drama end until the beloved thing is back in hand. sometimes they simply CAN'T stop freaking out once they get triggered.

    3. melissa, here's another link to that same blog where it explains somewhat exactly the answer to your question of "what makes it any different than any other kid?" she's made it into a series in an effort to help people understand because it's a perfectly valid question.

    4. thanks Sherilinnie, that sums things up really well. I'll have to take a link at that second link you posted myself. Can't wait till that first time I take Jack to the dentist. He's had checkups in school, but hasn't actually been to the dental OFFICE yet. Shudder. I'm def. going to make The Man handle that one.

  13. Oh Karen, I sooooo feel for you. I don't have any better ideas than those which have already been suggested. My kids have been picky over food, though nothing like to the extent of Jack, and even their fairly average logic-less refusals drive me crazy. I think with all kids who have a thing about food, the underlying issue is control. Kids don't have much of that in their lives, I suppose, so they pick on the areas where they can flex their mini muscles and drive their parents up the wall... And that's without the extra sting of all the anxiety kids on the autistic spectrum experience.
    But I also agree with Sherilin that you can't let sympathy for Jack control you. You have to eat, and it really would be difficult for both of you to get into a situation where you can't eat together at all.
    I don't know, love, I've got no answers, I just hear you and I'm sorry it's so tough for both of you. Lots of love xxxxxxx

  14. Thanks Curtise, this is all good. I agree too that I shouldn't let Jack control how and when I eat.

    I have a couple of ideas up my sleeve, but I'll talk about that in a few days.

  15. No authority on kids. I wish I still had the metabolism. Raisins are happy food, never stop eating raisins.

    Getting more from the fridge now. Great for metabolism too.
    Bananas & raisins are happy food healthier than anything processed bought in a store.

  16. Bennet, I love raisins too. I think all muffins should contain raisins, but occasionally I am VETOED on this at home :)


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