We all know I’ve got four kids. Celia never had many eating issues. David has had a few. Daniel qualified for Occupational Therapy because of his eating issues. And Henry. Henry never used to have any eating issues. But now I am seeing jags. For those of you who don’t understand this, a jag is when a child will only eat one thing for a long time. Then they burn out on that and jump to the next jag.

When Celia was a toddler, she was easy to please. But then again she would sometimes be fussy. One day we had an accidental break-through. She had some food with more pepper on it than normal. And she LOVED it! I started using it to my advantage. Green vegetables with pepper. Eggs with pepper. Chicken with pepper. The other thing I found is that if I called all meat “chicken” she ate it more willingly.

Ironically, David was the easiest to feed. You’d think being autistic that he would have had the most issues. But that isn’t how he functions. David’s appetite waxes and wanes more than the tides. As a side-effect of Risperdal, he could have had an increase in appetite. We haven’t seen any increase at all. David has certain likes and dislikes, to be sure. He, like most kids, doesn’t like his foods mixed. He’s not big on sauces. But he complains a lot less about what I make than Celia.

As for Daniel, he is the biggest challenge. He doesn’t qualify as a picky eater, just a problem eater. He eats one or two items from each food group. He prefers burgers, but not the healthy ones. The fast food ones. And they have to be plain. Some nights he’ll eat chicken. Other nights he won’t. Well, that really applies to everything. And to make matters worse, his top front baby teeth came in wrong. They are crooked and create a problem with biting. He doesn’t eat most things that are breaded. He doesn’t eat pretzels. He LOVES animal crackers and eats them at snack time nearly every day. He loves bananas. He recently added apples and oranges to his list of likes. He used to only eat green beans. If broccoli hit his plate he would scream and throw the plate. Then refuse to eat anything. Oh, and he never eats any form of white potatoes except for french fries. Never in his life has he eaten mashed potatoes.

Henry used to only eat grilled cheese for lunch. He would not under any circumstances eat peanut butter and jelly. Now he won’t eat grilled cheese, and will eat P B & J. He loves bananas and yogurt. He likes pretzels and animal crackers. He’s pretty open to most foods, but then something will get into his head and he’ll refuse to eat too.

One of my practices has always been giving the kids their vegetables before dinner is finished cooking. They pest for food, why not give them something healthy? And all the kids are so desperate for food, that they willingly munch all the veggies I can give. Celia, as a matter of fact, has always preferred vegetables to fruit. David and Daniel now enjoy them too. Daniel’s list of acceptable vegetables has grown to include peas (hot or frozen) and even broccoli. For Daniel, getting him to accept broccoli came over much time of making it available. I would first just make it and put it on the table. Then when he was used to it being there, I began putting a very small amount on his plate. After a lot of waiting, one day he tasted it.

The Occupational Therapist said I was doing the right thing by waiting for him to eat. She told me that it was best to offer him dinner and allow him to eat or allow him to go hungry. It was up to him, but I wasn’t about to make him a special meal or allow him to eat P B & J three times a day. I would just make sure that I made a Daniel “approved” meal at least once every day or two. We took this approach for everything. I make it, I expect them to eat it. If they eat their dinner and then are hungry later, I can let them have a snack. But if they refuse dinner, then that’s all they get to the next morning. This rule is the hardest to enforce for David. David has no rationale. There is no getting through to him like in an NT child. When he gets it into his mind that he is entitled to something, he will not let it drop. He’ll scream until his nose bleeds if he gets into enough of a snit.

Henry’s jag is a new experience for me. I suppose I’m going to have to find all my papers that the OT gave me when we were beginning to explore Daniel’s eating difficulties. I also want to buy the book Just Take A Bite. According to the reviews on Amazon, it seems like just what I need. It even includes eating exercises.