Two Thanksgivings ago, my mom asked Ethan what kind of pie he wanted with his Turkey Day dinner. "I don't wany any pie made with fruits or vegetables," he said. So that Thanksgiving, we ate pumpkin pie while he tucked into a Hostess chocolate cupcake.
It's fairly common for kids on the autism spectrum to have an aversion to some type of food, mainly because they don't like its texture. Some kids don't like meat, others don't like bread. For Ethan, it was fruits and vegetables. And I'm talking every kind of fruit or vegetable you could think of--even raisins, which are so sweet, they hardly count as a fruit.
For a while, I tried every trick in the book to get some fruits and vegetables into Ethan's diet. I made cookies with shredded carrots, raisins and loads of chocolate chips. He would take one bite and spit out every shred of carrot and raisin in the cookie. People advised me to make smoothies, but I knew that was a no go because along with Ethan's aversion to fruits and vegetables, he also hated foods mixed up together. Every food--chicken nuggets, rice, a token vegetable--had a separate place on his plate.
So over the past two years, we've used a lot vitamin supplements to keep Ethan's health up while we chipped away at his hatred toward fruits and vegetables. Unfortunately we would have to reward Ethan for eating a slice of apple or lettuce leaf with sugar, his hands-down favorite food group. At least it got him to eat those vile foods.
But the real turning point occured when Ethan turned 5 years old. Suddenly, he had an appetite, so eating yucky foods became more appealing than feeling hungry. The more fruits and vegetables he ate, the braver I got, to the point where I plunked down this in front of him.
It's lasagna, the ultimate casserole. It's got noodles and cheese, which he loves, but those goodies are covered in tomato sauce, which is iffy. I held my breath when I put the plate in front of Ethan. He looked suspiciously at it, but his hunger got the best of him, and he took a bite. The next thing I knew, the plate was clean. I was estatic. Maybe I won't have to cook two meals for dinner anymore.