Food fears!

It has always been hard to get the right foods into my boy. I'm sure that's familiar to many of you. In my son's case, he has a dreadful phobia of trying new foods. It terrifies him, utterly, so I have never really forced the issue. Instead, I've regularly talked to him about nutrition and worked with him to make sure he is getting just enough of the food groups.

Over the years he has occasionally said he is willing to try something new, and I usually try to come up with something similar to foods he already enjoys. Sometimes he will manage to try them, and enjoy them (or hate them). And sometimes he completely freaks out and can't cope. Sometimes this has upset me because I have invested so much time and energy into cooking things "just right" for him. It's hard not to get emotionally involved, but I try not to add that pressure to him of course.

Obviously I have hoped he will eventually get past this issue, but as it's a phobic reaction, I also see that it could be a lifelong problem. 

The whole idea of "if he's hungry he'll eat" doesn't apply. My son truly would starve to death first. He has gone on school camps and not eaten for a full three days, if food wasn't right for him. (I'm sure you can imagine, he is a complete wreck when he comes home). There's a world of difference between fussy and phobic. Phobic isn't rational. Reasonable arguments about why tasting something new is a good idea, don't really break down phobias. A person with a phobia can even accept that they are being irrational, but that doesn't diminish their fear. (I should say too, those camps I mentioned above, in one instance I had actually pre-cooked the meals at home and taken them out to the camp cooking staff, but they didn't present it right, so he had trouble trusting that it was really my cooking. So he wouldn't touch it. The very idea that it might not be trustworthy food was enough to completely freak him out. Suffice it to say I stopped making him go to camps, as they were obviously not a positive or worthwhile experience for him at all.)

He's 15 now, and the other day as he was helping me with groceries, he said, "I think maybe I will try new foods this year Mum. At my age, I really should give it a go." So we went through the freezers at the supermarket and picked out a bunch of Healthy Choice frozen meals, all entirely different to pretty much anything he has ever liked. 

My theory was 
1. He was willing 
2. I don't have to cook them so there's less emotional involvement on my part. 
3. He was willing. 
4. A lot of these meals are softer so he might enjoy them more.
5. He was willing. :)

Here they all are lined up in the freezer. Some of these (the spicier ones) are for me, but who knows? In my dreams I hope he will try those ones as well.

Fingers crossed!

Relax and let them flourish!

My son (15, ASD/ADHD, Anxiety, Sensory), has been spending a lot of time socialising with friends online over this past year. They get together on Skype and voice chat while they play games. Pretty much since that began, he is socialising all the time. Some people think that isn't socialising, but I will always debate that point - it's socialising 2014-style. NT/ASDs alike, are partaking and love it. It also offers a level playing field socially for ASDs, because nobody has the advantage of better body language skills.

Although they aren't in the same room, I think they are learning much better social skills, because they spend so many hours together and have to learn how to regularly negotiate a constructive dialogue. They learn to work as a team. They learn to negotiate through tricky conflict situations. There's a lot of positive peer pressure. They learn how to be self-protective online and perhaps a little more private. On the other hand they are also more likely to share their problems with each other and seek help. I love it.

My son hangs out with a group of about 6-10 peers in voice chat every day. He is the only ASD, and as it turns out, is also often the group leader, as he also is a very talented and creative Game Master in a bunch of roleplay games they like to do together. He works hard at preparing for these, and it's really fun to listen to him, because he is so clever and articulate as he guides their characters through his rich and complex imaginary worlds.

And today, he unexpectedly managed to get them to all leave their computers for a while and meet at the mall. What a surprising turn of events! I never would have expected him to be the initiator of face-to-face contact.

To me, the lesson in here is, if you let someone with an ASD be who they are, and interact in a way that works for them as an individual, instead of imposing some kind of NT "ideal" on them, they will flourish.

So my message to you today is: 

 Let them be themselves, let them flourish!