He won’t be so picky if you make him eat what you eat
Nicole Fornabaio/Rd.com, enterlinedesign/shutterstock Autism and picky eating usually go hand-in-hand, but it’s caused by much more than a parent simply not making a child eat certain foods. A clinical study focused on sensory processing and eating problems in children on the spectrum estimates that about 80 percent of children with developmental difficulties, including autism spectrum disorder (ASD), struggle with selective eating. Developmental delays can impact the ways in which children on the spectrum view, and enjoy, food. For some, extremely limited interests can make every single meal a battle. Sensory processing difficulties can make a child on the spectrum feel as though a well-balanced meal is a punishment, rather than a pleasurable, nutritious experience.
Here’s what to say instead: What foods are her favorite? Maybe I can give you some new ideas of ways to prepare them that she might like.
Autism is an excuse for bad behaviors
Nicole Fornabaio/Rd.com, enterlinedesign/shutterstock Autism is a clinically diagnosed disorder. Many parents of children on the spectrum may explain certain negative behaviors, like aggression or meltdowns, as autistic behaviors, because they absolutely are. It doesn’t mean that they are trying to downplay their severity, though. It’s easy for parents to feel helpless when it comes to challenging behaviors in children on the spectrum. Dr. Hagerty explains that seemingly simple, every day tasks for other children can be extremely challenging for those on the spectrum. “Parents should choose their battles. Avoiding the word ‘bad’ and sticking to the word ‘fair,’ instead, will save a lot of energy for both the child and the family.”
Here’s what to say instead: I’ve heard that autism can present a lot of challenging behaviors. If you ever want to vent, I’m here.
She just needs some more socialization
Nicole Fornabaio/Rd.com, enterlinedesign/shutterstock Socialization is a touchy subject for many autism parents. Although they know the importance of socialization for autistic individuals, it can be heartbreaking to witness a child’s struggles with socialization. It’s just not as simple as giving the child more socialization opportunities. Hess says that autistic individuals typically enter into social groups led by therapists. These groups give social opportunities, while allowing the therapist and other participants to guide individuals to pick up on important social cues and use proper social techniques within a group. It’s all about giving those on the spectrum opportunities for navigating social scenarios, but doing so at their own pace so as not to overwhelm them by triggering anxiety. Read what it’s like to live with crippling anxiety.
Here’s what to say instead: I can tell she has a hard time in social situations. What can I do to make it easier for her?