Momma's back & this week, we are "breaking bread". Yes, it's time to explore one of the most fascinating "Addie-ism's". Food!
Eating has always been a struggle for you. From the beginning, you've had some quirkiness when it comes to food, but recently we started to realize that there may be more to the story.
We've learned that if your food doesn't offer you at least a little bit of sensory feedback, the dog becomes the lucky recipient of a discarded offering from the dinner table.
Just about every autistic person I've met has a rather unusual or "picky" diet.
Now I can't speak for all people on the spectrum, but for you it's a sensory thing. It's all about how the taste and texture combine for a sensory experience! The funny thing, is that many of us, neurotypical, or on the spectrum, have food aversions as well. From not liking peas because the are green and squishy, to being scared to eat escargot because it's slimy - yup I can't do that one! Makes me kinda gag just thinking about it.
It's no secret that sometimes your meal content can get a second look from bystanders. It's different. I mean not every 6yr old takes spicy taco meat to school everyday.
True story, Addie our house smells like taco Tuesday at least 3-4x's a week even before the coffee is brewed in the morning.
In addition to your autism, you have what's called a Sensory Processing Disorder or SPD for short. This is when the brain has difficulty in the way it registers, organizes and uses sensory information, causing you to have problems interacting effectively in everyday environments. This includes eating, or just food in general.
We don't see food the same. I see what looks good and is healthy for me...you see a complete sensory need to help function. Having SPD can involve a tremendous amount of sensitivities including that to food.
When it comes to these food sensitivities there's two really big ones: hypersensitivity - this is when bland, somewhat non-exciting foods like mashed potatoes, or plain spaghetti noodles, might actually smell extreme to you. To these people, it's like they're being forced to sit in the middle of a nasty garbage dump! Almost nauseating.
The other is hyposensitivity which is what you have my dear. You tend to enjoy foods that offer you more sensory stimulation. For example, spicy, super cold, or crunchy foods are your jam!
These are all super beneficial to providing your brain the sensory stimulation it's seeking. It's safe to say avocados and mashed potatoes may never be on your list of "yes please!" They are both bland and mushy, and therefore, not your speed. Not a lot of sensory satisfaction going on there. (Que Ruby waiting patiently to help take those off your hands.)
Now having Autism on top of this hyposensitivity can add another complexity to feeding you. For you, routine is everything, and sameness is your best friend.
Trying new things can be a huge struggle if you already know the response you are seeking can be satisfied with a particular food. For example - you love Danimals Smoothie yogurts. You've memorized the packaging everything is predictable and as it should be. They did a new marketing campaign like 2 years ago and just because the wrapper changed - you wouldn't even hold it. It wasn't until they returned to its original marketing package that you'd go on to try it again.
When we do venture out to a restaurant (which isn't all that common these days), it's not unusual for us to order you a big ole plate of raw onions (you love them)! Side note: our beloved Miss Susan shares your love for onions as well, so she is always up for sharing a plate with you ;).
Now truth be told, we kinda lucked out a bit with all this. You are pretty good about trying everything as long as there is something else you like on your plate along side it (or plenty of good seasoning ;).
Consistency and a whole lot of patience has been key for you and us.
We must have made grilled chicken (with seasoning) no joke about 50 times before you'd even try it! Ruby was once again, very happy ;). Guess what...our patience paid off and now you actually love it! In fact, if you see something you don't recognize you even request it "a sh-icken?"
A few other things you've taught us...
Tortilla chips are just a vessel for hot salsa.
Paprika is amazing, especially on chicken!
Mac and cheese is a hit with extra sharp cheddar! Seriously the sharper the better!
Onions are apparently perfect raw!
Let us not forget goldfish, which are awesome too! But they have to be the "real" goldfish not those organic bunny crackers. No fooling you!
Quite frankly, these days Addie we are full on keeping Gatorade and Smartfood white cheddar popcorn in business with your consumption alone.
So although your diet is "different" than most, you are still happy and healthy and that's what matters most! May you never forget what the great Temple Grandin has said "different, not less".
Keep being you. Taco meat and all.