Wednesday, September 12, 2007

All you can eat?....

We had a bit of an "aha" moment with Samuel over the holiday.

We were surprised to see how readily he took to the idea of the "eat as much as you like", self service style meals that we had in a number of the restaurants (including all the breakfasts).

It was only when discussing this, that it clicked for us: this way, he doesn't have to chose!

Samuel, like many with Aspergers, can't cope with decisions and on a bad day can be totally immobilised over something as minor as chosing whether to have juice or squash.

He is also always asking for dinner to be a "feast", by which he means lots of dishes all being out on the table, buffet/party style.

Now it all makes sense! Having a buffet, with a wide variety of foods available, means never having to make a decision - because he can have everything. And the "eat as much as you like" aspect means he doesn't have to have a panic about something running out (which we get over the crips flavours in our house; we have a bag into which I empty different multipacks of gf flavour crisps, but if there is only one of a flavour left he feels he has to have it as chosing a different flavour means not having that one available again till we restock).

It may seem a minor thing, but it was another window into his world and to understanding him better.

On a separate note, William ate BUCKET LOADS of food on holiday, eating steadily, going back for seconds and thirds... bear in mind this is our dangerously underweight child who won't eat anything at home and takes an hour to eat one bowl of cereal, or one slice of bread.

We've been trying to work out why - particulary with our new viewpoint of assuming he's an aspie. My thought was that, when we go to a restaurant (or say we are going to someone's house for dinner), the reason to BE there is to eat. So he eats.

At home, especially as we share Mum's house and only have the one room, the room that he is expected to eat in is also the living room; the place he plays; the table is where he also does craft, or writing - its not about eating. So he doesn't focus on the eating part, but is instead in tune with everything else.

It certainly would sound reasonable.

So we decided to test it. Since we've been back, the table has been against the wall outside of meal times, with no cloth on it. At mealtimes, we've pulled it into the middle of the room, layed it with cloth, placemats - the full monty.

For breakfast, I set the table like in the hotel, with cutlery together, bowls together, cereal, pain au chocolat, yoghurts, glasses of juice etc all together for them to "help themselves".

At lunch we've had "all you can eat" buffets, replicating exactly what they ate, even down to the bowls of grated carrot, sweetcorn, and the pate that Joshua discovered he loved!

Dinner has been with a formally laid table, Samuel playing waiter, and us all speaking French.

Well, the kids have all loved it, especially William.

But he's back to eating V E R Y S L O W L Y.

At least he's finishing the food on his plate - but still, its less than half the amount he was having in Disneyland.

Any other ideas anyone? Any other aspies or their parents out there who can give me some possible insight, or other things to try?


Carol said...

(((hugs))) food worries are awful. No answers i'm afraid, but I thought of these questions that might help.
What do you do at home whilst you eat?- just eat, play games, talk about stuff, specific stuff
What did or didnt you do whilst eating at Disneyland? could it be replicated?
Another thing is seating position- could he feel to vulnerable and exposed, too enclosed, too hot, too noisy.
Could he need a softer or harder chair?
And finally could he just still know you are worrying, whereas at disneyland you were all too busy. Also if it is in his mindset that this is what he does at home, it could be hard to break it.

Sorry this probably isnt much help, hope you find an answer to it. Food/eating is such a hard thing to worry about.

Wobblymoo said...

My son couldn't can't cope with having a hot meal at lunch time, he thinks you have to have sandwiches at 12:30. He also has to have seperate food i.e he can't have a stew or pasta where it's all mixed up. This is slowly changing but perhaps it is something like that, that is the issue.