It is not uncommon for children with autism spectrum disorder to not want to try new foods. There can be many reasons for this. Children with autism may be very hypersensitive to things they smell, eat, or touch, which can cause an unpleasant situation for mealtimes.
Here at Leap Autism Therapy, we can work on determining why a child may not want to try certain foods and focus on strategically getting them to try new foods. Below are some things you can try at home when you want your child diagnosed with autism to try new food.
Tips for Trying New Foods
Introduce one food at a time.
Choose one new food you would like your child to start eating. Serve this food every day on the child’s plate. The child may not eat it right away. It may take days, weeks, or even months for them to try the food. However, the more exposed they are to it, the less foreign this food will be to the child. Do not force your child to eat the food. Instead, make it an option for them to try the new food.
Be intent on which foods you want your child to try.
When you are looking to have your child try a new food, be strategic and choose foods that are similar to foods that your child likes. For example, if your child likes to eat chips, try introducing them to carrots, as they both have a crunch to them. If your child loves fried chicken, try introducing them to grilled chicken as another option.
Serve the new food on a separate plate.
Your child may be more open to trying something new if it is on a different plate from the rest of their food. Try this as an option.
Enjoy the food for yourself in front of your child.
If your child sees how much you and the rest of the family love the food you want them to try, they may wish to join in on the excitement! So get your entire family on board to show your child with autism how delicious the food is!
Mix in some of your child’s favorite foods.
Your child may be more open to trying a new food if you mix in some of their favorite foods along with it. For example, if your child loves chicken nuggets, tell them they can have one after they eat a piece of broccoli.
Give your child lots of positive reinforcement after they try new food.
Praise your child every time they try new food. Tell them how happy you are with them that they tried the food. Be specific when praising them, telling them you loved that they tried that particular food (i.e., apple slices).
Use social stories
Sometimes reading a social story specific to trying new foods can help your child try new food. Try reading a social story before they try the food to help prepare them.
When working with your child to try new foods, it’s important never to try to trick them into eating something. This may cause your child to become suspicious of eating all food, which could further set them back.