Any expert will tell you that it is a bad idea to combine television and mealtime. Any mother of a child with Autism will tell you that all bets are off when it comes to winning the battle with your picky eater. My son Jake will not voluntarily consume anything other than chips which makes meals at our house especially challenging. Keep in mind that I am not trying to get him to down a plate of brussels sprouts. I provide kid-friendly fare such as chicken nuggets, waffles and sandwiches that I believe he would like if he would only try them.
My husband came up with a great idea to help my television obsessed, chip loving child expand his food choices. Our television is visible from the kitchen table. So, when the kids sit down to eat, we leave it on playing one of their favorite shows. Dad, armed with the remote control, periodically pauses the show and explains that the TV is broken and the only way to fix it is to take a bite. This process has now become a game in our house and Jake is finally eating some new foods.
Of course, I tried similar techniques such as "first take a bite, then I'll turn on the TV" and other "first and then" ideas recommended by autism experts. They never worked for Jake. He loves this new game with Daddy, so we'll stick with it for now.
There is a concern that we may have created a new problem for our son. I keep envisioning a day when a 30 year old Jake has to call the cable company because his cable service isn't working. I can just imagine him on the phone with customer service saying, "I don't know what's wrong. I ate a waffle and an apple. But it's still not working!"