Sunday, April 19, 2009

Autism Mealtime Tip - For Less Chaos

My son who has autism and aspberger syndome is 5 years old and at mealtimes, he gets very impatient when he is hungry. What can I do to minimize the chaos that is caused by his yelling and screaming if he hears that he is getting food but does not see it relatively quickly on his plate?

A lot of children with autism don't appear to have a good concept of delayed gratification. In order to best reduce the chaos at mealtime, some prep work is usually a good idea.

For example, let's say that you know that your child is hungry and that he loves top ramen (which takes 3-5 minutes to prepare). A really bad thing to do would be to ask him if he wants some top ramen and then have him wait impatiently (as he could likely have a fit) for it to cook and cool, and then serve it to him . I have found that the perfect solution is to just go ahead and prepare the food, get it all ready for serving and then ask if he would like some. If he says yes (either verbally or non-verbally) go ahead and serve it up. If he is hungry and you are preparing a bigger dinner, I recommend removing him from the cooking environment so he is not thinking about it so much. Put in a short TV program or something to help him to refocus away from the dinner. When the food is ready, prepare his plate and plop him down in his seat. It's dinner time. No chaos, no foul... You ought to give it a try. (It works for me).

Covered: Thinking ahead and refocusing.

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