My special needs child hates food. Actually both my special needs children hate food. Maybe hate is a bit too strong but they are definitely extremely suspicious. It has taken all my resolve to accept this fact but it has been worth the struggle.
Getting in the Greens
Parental concern is quite something and I’m sure most people have had similar experiences. There was always a huge obsession with me as a child to eat enough, to get my greens in and to not waste food. And somehow this sneaked into my parenting, despite me trying not to be this way. When my twins were very young, I was so concerned with what they were eating. Everything had to be organic. And they had to get enough. Often food would be the same and rather boring. So as soon as they started needing control, they practised it in no uncertain terms.
My Special Needs Child Hates Food
My special needs child hates food. This is how I felt when the boys started refusing everything I gave them. And they started wanting to eat ‘bad’ foods. It was so unbelievably frustrating and worrying. I imagined them poisoned by unhealthy food and withering away because they were not eating enough. The food budget shot up as I got expensive organic food that they wasted. And I would spend loads of money on different vitamins and probiotics and omegas. Meal times were not good. Poor boys. It must have been a terrible time for them. All they wanted to do was to control their lives in some small way. They had only just realised that this was possible, after all! They were developing their own personalities. And they were setting and testing the boundaries.
Mending Food Fences
When we found out that the kids had special needs, everything changed. As I’ve mentioned before, ‘naming it’ has taken off the pressure in so many ways. Our parenting is less about control and more about letting the kids blossom in their own way. Of course there is discipline, but there is also a lot more understanding and flexibility. And it’s made meal times much more relaxed too.
Ok, my Special Needs Child doesn’t really Hate Food
My children base their food choices on textures and colours. The kids do still only eat a handful of things. They still mostly refuse to eat cooked food. Often they are suspicious of anything new. And don’t get me started on the love for sweets, ice cream and pizza. But it’s OK.
Their meals are fairly balanced and often raw. They eat a few fresh foods such as avocado, tomatoes, cucumber and carrots. They will eat protein in the form of cheese and biltong. And we make sure they get these at every meal. They can help themselves to fruit that they enjoy. They like to drink water and this is a great habit. We give them one good multi-vitamin and omegas. For all the other ‘bad foods’, we limit them reasonably. They have a good blow out at parties, for example. And are allowed treats. We don’t want to fetishise these foods.
Some Things we Still Need to Work On
Obviously their eating habits are not ideal. For one thing, we eventually want the boys to go gluten free or to reduce their gluten intake. My husband is totally gluten free and I am almost there. The benefits of a gluten free diet are well-documented. I think it will be much easier when we’re homeschooling next year because we will be able to give them better meals at home. Bread is obviously super convenient for school lunches at the moment.
We are not going to give up on getting them to try other foods. My husband is an amazing cook and they’re going to kick themselves when they realise that they’ve been missing out for so long! But it’s going to be an easy, stress free experiment every time.
Over to You
How do you deal with your special needs children as picky eaters? What are your hints and tips for getting them to try new food? I would love to hear from you. Please drop me an email or comment below.