Sunday, June 5, 2011

Autism and Chicken McNuggets

Kids are picky eaters. All kids go through stages and phases where they will ONLY eat mac and cheese or refuse to try anything green. My two older kids went through it- my oldest would eat nothing but scrambled eggs for 6 months, my middle darling would only eat Shells and Cheese - none of that blue box Mac and Cheese crap for her.  Eventually they both outgrew those things and both now are willing to go on many culinary adventures.

Then along came Noah. As a baby he could not eat enough. He was a roly poly little guy who was eating cereal from a spoon at 3 months. As a young toddler (1-2 years old) he ate EVERYTHING! I prided myself on the amazing lunches I would make for him when he was in daycare- no lunchables or canned crap for my kid!  Those days came to a screeching halt when he first started showing symptoms of Autism. No more fruits (besides bananas) no more milk, (besides ice cream) no more veggies of any kind and chicken nuggets were the only form of "meat" he would touch.

Good nutrition and autism rarely go hand in hand. Parents often give up and concentrate on other things. Which is exactly what happened to us. Our days of chicken and fries had begun. The kid would seriously eat chicken nuggets and fries for every meal, every day if we would let him. I literally adjusted my routes when out and about with him to try and avoid those damn Golden Arches.  His once varied appetite was now limited to Chicken and fries, Spaghettios, Goldfish crackers, dill pickles, bread and butter, and "circles" (what he used to call salami). He did (and does) have sensory issues- smells and textures will bother him (ha- understatement of the year- he will lose his damn mind)  so some things I don't even bother with- too crunchy, too yellow, too spicy, too, too too. *sigh*

Noah's dinner- all neutral colors- that salad- never crosses his lips
He then proceeded to give things up. No more bananas or strawberries or grapes- things he LOVED, no more yogurt, no more orange or apple juice.Fruit Punch only and only red koolaid..and yes I am aware of red dye allergies and did my own at home test and he did not have an adverse reaction. However- when we first implemented the Gluten/Casein Free diet  as mandated by the DAN (Defeat Autism Now) Protocol we did notice an increase in meltdowns. The Methyl B-12 injections he was getting had made his language explode- but removing the gluten from his diet was insane. Now- I know WHY he acted like this- much like a heroin addict not getting his fix- my child's body was going through withdrawals...FROM GLUTEN! Is that insane or what?  But then when he stopped eating anything all together- I caved and let him have what he wanted. I know, stellar parenting right?  But living with Autism you really need to pick your battles sometimes- and since he did not have the leaky gut issue that so many children on the spectrum have, I decided that there were other more important battles to fight.

So now a typical meal for Noah is chicken (or meat of any kind really), mac and cheese or Alfedo noodles and bread. Recently we went through  a phase of letting him smell everything, touch it with his tongue and eventually try it- ABA (Advanced behavior Analysis)  training at it's finest.  But he still gagged, cried, threw things, and no amount of cajoling, bribery or threats would get him to try anything. I still put things on his plate- but I think he will win this stand off.

I "hide " things in food, juice etc. and I love the book The Sneaky Chef (spinach and blueberry brownies anyone?)  but I think that Chicken McNuggets (any chicken in any nugget form really) are winning...in a Charlie Sheen kind of way.