Monday, October 26, 2015

HELP!!! My Child Went to WebMD!

I went grocery shopping today and while I loaded up my cart with a bounty of produce, I couldn’t help but think about my two sensory sensitive boys that refuse to eat all vegetables. I shamefully thought about the years that have passed and how I still can’t get them to eat these healthy foods.

Outside of a forced nibble on a carrot, some hidden spinach in a few smoothies or juices with combined vegetable juice, my boys have victoriously won the battle of refusing to eat vegetables.

It makes me feel like a failure as a mother. Though realistically I know that most typical mothers aren’t dealing with strong sensory issues in their kids and there’s the obvious realization that I’ve had bigger battles to win over the years, I still feel disappointment in myself over what I’ve failed to accomplish.

Now my youngest is having stomach issues. Constipation and pain most days. Knowing that stomach issues are associated with autism spectrum disorders, I’ve started the process of working with our doctor to figure out how to help him.

One day when his stomach was hurting bad, he admitted Googling WebMD to research his stomach issues. It was there that he learned that he needed to drink coconut water and eat rice and bananas.

My 10 year old went to WebMD!!!!

Every night he asks for prayers for the doctors to figure out what is wrong with his stomach and that his stomach will feel better soon.

But I still can’t get him to eat those leafy greens.

On the flip side, my middle son asks to make salads as a midday snack.

I just don’t know what to do.  It’s hard to sneak this produce into their meals since they know that there’s a taste, color or texture difference they object to.

I can’t force them, that leads to them throwing up onto their plate.

I keep hoping that making the healthy foods available and asking them to try, that in time they will start to give these foods a chance, maybe even develop a palate for them. But so far, that’s not working either.

So tell me moms and dads of sensory challenged kids, what has worked for you?


  1. Interestingly my autistic son does not have sensory issues and will eat everything (in fact he is hugely embarrassing at picnics or buffers as he shoves handfuls of food into his mouth). However, my other son who is not asd has what we now know to be selective eating disorder. we ended up taking him to see a guy in the UK who specialises in hypnotherapy for this with some success. he still is extremely fussy and will only eat peas - but he will eat peas!!!!!!! and no loner has the huge phobic anxiety that goes along with it. the fact have one autistic son and one with food issues has never escaped me - it's all in the genes!!

  2. I have sensory issues too.

    So, sneaking into meals can work only up until a certain point. It has to be invisibly ghosted hidden to have its chance.

    Forcing him ? Forget it, it increases oppositional behavior.

    To help me eat spinach, it had to be cooked completely differently than the way mom likes.
    Mom likes them boiled, them with some cream and cheese. Didn't work.
    When I was in training session in an Italian company, the spinach were sauteed in a pan, then served with pasta. A completely different taste !!

    What I mean is that the environment plays a lot in trying new things. Rather than trying to make him taste new foods, but it doesn't work because of sensory issues, them you feel guilty over and over, you can ask someone else to take over.
    The someone else can cook the unpalatable veggies in such a different way your young son will be eager to eat them.

    In the meantime, you can work with fruits. Again, think about environment.
    Rather than make him taste those unpalatable foods at dinner table, let him try them outside the dinner table and with someone else to take over.
    For example, a trusted friend, a baby-sitter...
    You can put on his visual schedule that "on Day D, at snack tme, you'll try Food F with Person P".

    I know that normally, making a chld vary his diet is parental duty. But let face it, for your son with autism, your strategies don't work.
    As a child with ASD is not a business-as-usual-child, your education won't be business-as-usual-education because it won't work. Feeling guilty because it doesn't work won't change the fact that it doesn't work, and negatively affects the whole family.
    You tried something, it didn't work. That's ok, you did your best and that what truly matters.
    Now, other solutions are in order.
    What a good parent is ? A good parent responds to the child he is dealt with. If your solution to achieve your goal works for safety and well-being of the whole family, then, it's the perfect solution for this specific situation.

    Since your son went to WebMD, you can also use it as a teaching tool for healthy lifestyle.
    WebMD is not good or bad per se : depends how do you use it.
    You can guide your son for using WebMD responsibly and encourage him to share what he reads with his doctor.
    When he worries because of cyberchondria, FWIW, you can first, reassure him that this behavior is very common and is called cyberchondria, then, encourage him to ask the doctor's opinion before he does anything advised on WebMD. Every time he asks you whatever he can do this or that based on WebMD, you defer to the doctor. Intervene only if you are sure that doctor's advice is dangerous. By deferring systematically to the doctor, the goal is making him understand that WebMD doesn't substitute talking to his doctor AND you avoid being trapped into exhausting power struggles.
    In such way, you defer the question to the most competent. By deferring to a more competent person, you enhance your credibility and authority as a mother.
    FWIW, these are the first seeds of using Internet in a responsible way for his health. He did communicate you that he's ready for such education, so, follow this lead !!

    In such case, the only right solution is what works for the specific child you raise.

    If asking someone else to take over and trying new foods outside of the family dinner is the only way to make your child try new food, be it !

    1. You have some good ideas! Thanks. I like the idea of others being the one to introduce something. I have seen this at work and it does allow them to try something new sometimes, but I haven't always been able to carry it out once home. I also like the idea of trying new things outside of meals, that may take the pressure off since it isn't their dinner.

    2. "but I haven't always been able to carry it out once home."
      The most important is that he tried something new outside home. As we say in French, "the rest is only literature".

      For sensory issues around food, the way it's prepared and cooked changes everything. FWW in my case, veggies are very palatable when they are roasted, in gratin, or when you saute them into some oil or butter before you blend them into a soup. Boiled or steamed veggies without anything but only some raw butter or oil after cooking ? Nope, doesn't work.

      The mash potatoes ? Cook your potatoes without peeling them, otherwise, you get a runny mash potatoes.

      In a few words, the way your family taught you how to cook vegetables may be completely flawed, ie cooking your potatoes for a mash.
      What I can suggest is cooking classes with a chef. This way, you can learn how to cook veggies and fruits to make them palatable and learn new cooking tips.
      You can do the same by watching cooking shows.
      I know that you are not exactly fond of screens. But cooking shows and videos can be your best friend to help your children eating veggies.

      Since your sons are very fond of screens, you can use them as a great teaching tool for cooking.
      Any human being is more motivated to eat what he prepares.
      By letting your children watching cooking shows, even when you're not so fond of these shows, you can motivate them for a healthy diet.
      Screens are your friends or your enemies, depends how do you use them.
      Cooking shows can trigger them some motivation to try new things.
      By using their passion for computers, you can instill them some food and nutrition education without breaking your brain !!
      And watching cooking shows can be a fun activity too !

      Exercise ? Again, TV shows can do the trick.
      Of course, they must learn that it won't be so easy and they need to be supported in that. OTOH, the tv show can give them such needed inspiration.
      Dancing With the Stars, French edition, motivated me to dance again. I just have to be careful because I injured myself two years ago while dancing, and I still deal with those injuries.

      There are only two rules of thumb here.
      First, beware your perfectionist tendencies by putting yourself a great deal of pressure to be a "perfect mother". Perfection is not of this world even for the most typical families anyway.
      Second, the only right solution is the safe and effective one for your family to achieve your goal.

    3. Very helpful ideas, thank you Giulia!

  3. Oh Boy! I can relate, and not just with my anxiety kiddo, but all my kiddos. I buy a lot of canned pumpkin and make tons of pumpkin muffins and pumpkin bread. I try to cut out as much sugar as possible in the recipes before they notice and it's usually more than you think. Pumpkin is so good for you. I also make smoothies and sneak in spinach there. You can puree cauliflower and sneak it into soups and mac and cheese and potato dishes--not a lot. The kids will know. But even a tiny bit is a success in my book.

    1. I like your attitude that even a tiny bit is a success!