How to make the best lunch for kids with autism

Children with autism can have a very difficult relationship with food. They have such high levels of stress and fear of the world that their poor digestive systems are always in a turmoil. 
A lot of children are hyper-sensitive to different textures and temperatures, but the way this presents itself can be very varied. They can like crunch or heat, because they need a sensory hit. Others may head in the opposite direction towards bland foods. What’s more, these things can change for individuals depending on their mood and how much they’ve slept.
Many children who have autism experience great anxiety as mealtime approaches. The underlying reasons can include sensory aversions and fear of unfamiliar foods. Inadvertently, families can make the anxiety worse by trying to force a child to eat, setting up a pattern of mealtime stress. Fear and anxiety can shut down hunger in a powerful way by putting the child’s body in a state of “fight or flight.”


Parental Guidance on How to Feed Autistic Children

Food selectivity would result in nutritional deficiencies leading to weight loss, malnutrition, and slow health growth.
Here are some tips parents can follow to make lunchtime easier:
  • Having Family Meals

Sitting together at the table while having your meals as a family is crucial. Creating a friendly environmental signal will help your child to comprehend what they are programmed to be doing. Also having your lunchtime meals as a family helps your child learn how to feed through imitation. Family mealtimes help your kids relax and feel more motivated to try different meals.
  • Offer Food Choices

Kids with autism possibly will want to feel some control over what they eat, so it is important to serve a variety of meals or allow them to choose what they want. As parents give their child a chance to choose what to eat reduce their anxiety during mealtimes.
Providing visuals timetables for the nonverbal kids to choose their best meals helps them to psychologically get ready for what’s about to be served.
  • Embrace Food Discussions

Obviously, most children have mastered the acts to avoid meals by engaging in spitting or throwing uncontrollable outbursts. Trying to avoid such distractions and engage the child in a chat about eating the meal is key. Develop a food learning behavior by asking the child either food is cold or hot. Asking your child question on the different types of meals will help you know their preference from their reactions.
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