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The Rockaway Times
Bon Apetit!
By Kami-Leigh Agard
We all have our eating eccen-
tricities. However as most par-
ents of autistic children would
reveal to you, our kids take it to
a whole new level. For example,
some children eat foods only
in a certain order of textures,
colors and combinations. I read
about a struggle of a parent,
whose child would not touch
his plate if the food displayed
was not all white. Also he would
have a melt down if any item on
his plate was touching. Others
like my daughter, enjoy eating
strongly flavored foods like raw
onions, lemons and orange
peels. Yes, my little one eats an
orange as if she was devouring
an entire apple!
As parents it is our role to
guide our children’s nutri-
tional choices. However, it is
always a guessing game with
our “artistic” children. Unfor-
tunately, there is no manual.
It becomes a game of trial and
error with the understanding
that the rules can change at
any stage, with no warning.
According to researchers in
the autism field, our children’s
persnickety food behavior is
influenced by many factors:
sensory issues, oral-motor
challenges, nutrient deficien-
cies, anxiety, food addictions/
cravings, and more.
My daughter exhibited her
first finicky food behavior with
breast-feeding. I laboriously
spent hours trying to get her
to take the breast. When she
finally did, talk about insult
to injury, it constipated her.
After we unsuccessfully tried
the most common brands of
baby formula, her pediatri-
cian suggested Nutramigen
Lipil. At $35 a can, this hy-
poallergenic infant formula
tastes like nuclear waste. Lo
and behold, she would gulp it
down, and would cry for sec-
Over time, as she graduated
to eating more solid foods, we
tried a variety of fruits, vegeta-
bles, meats. Some she would
try, others she totally reject-
ed. As she matured, her tastes
would become even more par-
ticular, less varied and change
suddenly. Introducing new
food these days is always an
Life With Our
“Artistic” Child
By Kami-LeighAgard
We offer a
full bar service
at both locations
catering options!
When I would make a salad
for dinner, I thought it was odd,
but cute that she picked out all
the red onions. Then one day, I
noticed she was devouring the
oranges, skin and all!
I guess her penchant for
chips, chips and more chips
is my fault. In the aftermath of
Hurricane Sandy, with no heat,
gas or electricity, it was im-
possible to cook. She literally
stopped eating. I don’t know if
it was because of the emotion-
al distress of being displaced
from our home, the turmoil
outside, or if she just sensed
the general tension hovering
in the atmosphere. I would
desperately scour the food
lines, searching for something
that could entice her. She does
not eat bread, nor anything
sweet including soft drinks,
cakes, muffins, chocolate. She
detests cold food. Everything I
brought, she would just push
away. Finally days later, I dan-
gled a bag of chips in front of
her as though it was a platter
of heavenly filet mignon. She
inhaled them, thank God.
However then chips and water
were all that she consumed
for weeks.
Today, I would say that over-
all she is a healthy eater with
a few quirks, such as guzzling
soap and eating sand. Break-
fast : volcanically hot egg ome-
lette with mushroom, onion
and mozzarella cheese. Snack:
chips and oranges. Lunch: vol-
canically hot soup with bok
choi, mushrooms, carrots and
shrimp. Dinner: volcanically
hot stir-fried baby corn, broc-
coli, cauliflower and shrimp.
Notice the theme in her en-
trees: Everything has to be so
hot, like molten lava. Whatever
works, I guess.
I don’t talk about autism for
sympathy or pity. My desire is
to open doors into the reality
of our lives as caregivers, build
understanding, tolerance and
growth of our “artistic” chil-
dren. Please do share your
thoughts and stories by email-
ing me at ourartisticchild@
outlook.com. I would love
your feedback! Also please
come to the Rockaway Beach
“Artistic" Families support
group on Tuesday, November
1 at 7 p.m. Email us for venue