The first step in correcting Jake's eating issues was to identify each problem.
1. Continually leaves table during the meal.
2. Meals take hours for him to complete.
3. Cannot tolerate unwanted foods on or near his plate.
4. Severely limited food choices. Refuses to try any new foods.
5. Unwilling/unable to use utensils.
6. Unable to drink from a regular cup or use a straw.
When all of these issues are in play during dinner, it is completely overwhelming. Having an itemized list helped me focus on each problem individually and develop a plan. I will definitely use this tool again for other behavior management and skill building projects.
Once the problems were identified, I had to determine which (if any) were reasonably within his control. These would be the issues to address first. That way, we could enjoy some confidence building successes before moving on to more complicated issues.
All children are different. You may find that your child has the same issue as Jake, but the underlying cause for the problem may be different and would therefore require another method to remedy it. Or, you can try similar approaches to the ones I use and just modify the pace and rewards according to your child's needs. As I've mentioned before, we arrived at this point after a lot of trial and error (mostly error). We are often reminded to be patient with our children. My fellow autism parents, I am asking you to be patient with yourselves. This is not a sprint, it's a marathon.
To be continued...