Forty years ago when we adopted our first baby at 4 months old, weighting 10 lbs, there was a note attached to him that said, “He does not like to eat!” I was lucky to get 2 oz of milk in him at a feeding. He’s fought eating most his life. At 40 he’s chunky because he’s obsessive/compulsive with the foods he likes. I tried all his life to get him to try all kinds of foods, to eat a balanced diet and regular meals, three times a day but it just didn’t work. He had a few foods that he liked and would pig out! Among his favorite were frozen hot dogs, frozen peas, peanut butter, eggs.
Medicine plays a big role in appetite. Some of the medicine that helps them focus and concentrate, also has the side effect of taking away their appetite. I give my Asperger girls their medicine a half hr before they have to get up for school so they will be able to focus enough to get dressed for school. By the time the meds kick in (about a half hour) their appetite is gone. It’s next to impossible to get them to eat breakfast in the morning. When my 16 yr old was much younger she had a wonderful teacher who was aware of all the Asperger issues and would ask her students to bring nutritious snacks to eat mid morning. Little boxes of raisins, little packages of fruit snacks, breakfast bars, carrot sticks, apples, a banana etc. It did seem to make the day go better.
Other medicines can cause carb cravings. My 16 yr old gained 50 lbs on Abilify. When she was younger she gained 26 lbs in 3 months, on Remron. On Topmax she would hardly eat and started to lose what she gained on Abilify. Topmax made her meltdowns worse so we discontinued that and put her on Geodon which has been the best so far. Vyvanse and different forms of Ritalin also causes loss of appetite.
My first husband was killed in 1994. I remarried 7 years ago to a friend who’s wife was killed in 1997. He knew nothing of Aspergers until we married. It’s taken some adjustment! Mealtimes can be crazy with Aspergers sitting at the table. So many things to make issues of, and so many meals ending up in meltdowns upsetting the whole family. So It creates less stress in our home to cook healthy foods, have it available and let them eat when they get hungry. My husband has had a hard time with our irregular eating habits, but he’s growing more accustomed to fixing a sandwich when he’s hungry. I miss the family time around the table, so I still often fix a meal for all of us and my 16 yr old can join us or not. There isn’t much quality family time around the dinner table when one family member is usually out of sorts with the rest.
Most kids like sugar. My Aspies seem to really crave it, almost like an addiction. I try not to buy or make many deserts, candy, sugared cereals etc. But when I have it around I keep it hidden back in our bedroom. If they know it’s in the house they will find a way to get it. Sugar does seem to make them less focused and more hyper.
Fingers verses utensils is another issue with many Aspergers. Even at 16 yr. she would prefer to eat everything with her fingers. We continually remind her to use her folk or spoon. I think it’s another sensory thing, needing to “feel” the food. Spaghetti, pudding, mashed potatoes etc. get a little messy with fingers. Also small motor coordination issues make holding the spoon difficult at times.
Other Asperger mothers have shared about their children wanting to use their fingers to eat with instead of silverware. The fact that it’s not socially correct is not a factor for the child. It’s kind of in the same category with not wanting to wear clothes.
Over the years I’ve learned to go with the flow, stress less, and pray a lot! Living only one day at a time, helps too!
How do you deal with food issues and your children?