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By Brenda Kosky-Deskin

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Michael, Autism & Chocolate

December 25, 2012   Comments (0)

Diet & Supplements General Interest

    

 
 

michael, autism and chocolateWhen Michael was a baby, he’d eat pretty much anything I could purée. If it could go into my food processor, it would go into him. As he became a toddler, his love for food continued. That boy ate with gusto.

All of this changed, however, after his third birthday, during the time that we can now look back on and identify as his “autistic regression”. His extremely limited vocabulary disappeared altogether. So did his diverse palate. All of the sudden, he would only eat whitish-colored, bland looking and tasting foods, all of which I could probably count on one hand. I couldn’t even tempt him with ice-cream or candy.

We had our work set out for us. Not only did we have to teach Michael how to point (that took about three months), use the bathroom (that took about six years), and an endless list – yes, I mean endless because he's almost 18 now and we’re still working away – of other important skills, but we also had to slowly and methodically reacquaint him with foods that were not:

  • bagels (cut only in half, never in quarters as that would be completely unacceptable);
  • bananas (that still had that little black end intact once they were peeled (otherwise they’d get smashed to pulp instantly by his hand and thrown in our face);
  • the vanilla flavored Minigos (which of course came in a four-pack with three pink flavors that he wouldn’t even consider eating; and
  • McDonalds french fries (only the long ones, although he wasn’t picky as to whether they came from his plate or that of the astounded stranger at the table beside us.)

The “food program” started back then and continues to this day. It’s how Michael began liking pizza, yogurt and a vast number of new foods that we continue introducing, or in some cases, reintroducing to him. Starting with minute quantities, we gradually build up the size of the bites and the frequency with which we serve these foods until one of two things happen… he either starts tolerating the food and gradually even likes it – which is usually the case, or, he continues struggling with the new food and we respect his ongoing refusal as a genuine dislike and move on. (I think we should all be entitled to have a few foods that just gross us out.)

Obviously, when I target foods that we will be working on in the food program, my choices are based on health and ease of access to prevent us from getting stuck bagel-less with a starving kid as would so often happen back in the early days of Autism. So, you can see why candy has never been up there on my list of priorities. Every once in awhile I have offered candy to Michael, and each and every time – to the amazement of many – he has flatly refused. That is, until now…

Recently, one of Michael’s brand new therapists, Matt, so kindly bought Michael a little Chanukah present. Michael, who understands what a present is, excitedly opened the gift bag that was handed to him and pulled out a small box containing a chocolate letter “M”. I was in the room with Matt and Priscilla, one of our long-timers who was there training Matt. Priscilla knows Michael as well as I do and like me, was just waiting for Michael to discover that his gift was candy, and quickly toss it aside. We exchanged awkward glances with each other, both of us thinking, “Poor Matt. He’ll feel so awful when he discovers that Michael hates the gift he just bought for him.”

Just as I was getting ready to express my utmost gratitude to Matt, and go on and on about how “it’s the thought that counts,” I found myself stopping mid-sentence to observe my son. Michael saw what was in the box and didn’t toss it aside so fast. Instead, he decided to open the lid. Priscilla and I continued to watch in amazement as Michael took the milk chocolate letter out of the box, examine it and start gnawing on a corner. Before we knew it, he was taking sizeable bites! Poor Matt had no idea as to what was going on as Priscilla and I broke out into hysterical laughter.

When we could finally contain ourselves, I explained the situation to Matt and how extra-thrilled I was with his gift. It ended up being a very important reminder for us all to never close the door to new possibilities and opportunities when it comes to Michael and what he likes or dislikes or will or will not do. So I pass this little tip onto you… Remain open-minded; you never know when you’ll be in for a sweet surprise!

 
 

December 25, 2012   Comments (0)

Diet & Supplements General Interest

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