Wednesday, 28 October 2009

When is a chip not a chip?

You may be thinking, strange question?

In SID Land, it’s not so strange.

Eating is something that ‘B’ has been doing well with, since we told her she would be home-ed she has been able to try new foods, new textures, new colours etc. Great progress!

It’s easy to fall into a false sense of security with SID, you know, just as you think you’ve got on top of something, another ‘thing’ will take it’s place or an old one will spring back up into action, so don’t be fooled into thinking it’s fixed, it just might… there is a small chance you’ve cracked it… but it just might come back.

‘B’ likes to go for lunch on a Sunday at the local Supermarket cafe, a small miracle in itself but that’s another story. Apart from not coping when they insist in putting her chips in a bowl even though they should be used to her coming in by now, but last weekend they changed the shape of the chips. Now to a ‘normal’ child, a chip is a chip, right? Not to an SID child, like alot of children with any aspect of Autism (Spectrum or not) the spontaneous change of the appearance of an up until now accepted food is a big deal. They had gone from ‘normal’ chip shape to big flat ones, needless to say those chips didn’t make the journey to ‘B’s stomach!

This got me thinking, so I have compiled a useful (well I hope it may prove useful) list of things to consider when faced with trying to feed your non-eating/fussy-eater SID child.

1) Texture
Look at the food your child does eat, is there a common theme with texture? Take ‘B’ for example, she is Sensory Defensive, she doesn’t like anything in her mouth for more than a second, she needs foods that don’t require alot of chewing. Hence she eats lots of what I call slimy foods, foods that can be swallowed quickly. She can’t eat tuna or rice without being sick, think about it, they are dry, they don‘t slide down the throat!

2) Colour
After talking to other Mums with SID children, it appears alot of them like yellow foods. I haven’t a clue why. Maybe visually yellow is an inoffensive colour, it doesn’t hurt the eyes? I don’t know for sure, but ‘B’ was definitely a yellow foods girl! I’m happy to report that we now will also eat green foods.

3) Shape
As pointed out above, shape is important. Again, circles seems to be an acceptable shape. Think about this, circles have no edges, maybe edges cause problems in the chewing process? Others will only eat something if it is chopped into tiny pieces, this may be because they have an over-sensitive oral system that can’t handle tiny pieces, because again, they don’t require as much chewing.

4) Together Foods
I didn’t know what else to call this section LOL! For a long time ‘B’ would only eat her food if each component was on a different plate. It is a well known fact that Autistic children will freak out if their foods are touching.

5) Temperature
Again ‘B’ likes all of her food room temperature. Doesn’t matter what they are meant to be, hot or cold, she’ll only eat them when they are at room temperature. Again think about it, bland foods eaten at bland temperatures. Spicy food children may only eat hot foods and never touch cold foods. Ice cream children may only eat really cold foods. Get it?

6) Utensils
Does your child try to eat everything with a spoon? Even things that don’t require one? There is a reason for this, if they do, it’s all about making sure the food goes ‘down the hatch’ without touching the sides! I don’t worry what ‘B’ uses to eat with, as long as it’s not dangerous obviously, it may look strange to me but if she’s comfortable with it, so am I. Look at the plates you use, are they plain, do they have a picture, which one does your child use the most? Shapes and colours of cups are just as important, as are drinking straws. Just be observant and find your child’s pattern.

7) Where to eat

There is alot of pressure on people to make sure everyone eats at the same table for meals. There are so many reasons why this is hard for an SID child.
a) Contamination
Someone else breathing over their foods equates to contamination.
b) Concentration
‘B’ eats more and best when she is in front of the TV. The TV provides a distraction for her so she is not solely concentrating on her food. Without this distraction eating becomes a huge ordeal for her.
c) Eating Habits
Other people’s eating habits, particularly other small children who don’t necessarily have great table skills. Things like eating with mouths open, getting food all over themselves, people talking whilst eating – these are all things that can cause an SID child great stress.

I’ve obviously only really given examples of our own experiences. I can’t stress enough that the key to getting on top of SID, I think, is really get to know your child (inside and out)! Forget about what is expected from society, what the parenting books say you should be doing, what others expect of you. Your ‘normal’ is just a different type of normal to others.

I’m of the opinion that we shouldn’t be trying to get them to fit into our world, we should be looking at how to fit into theirs. Put yourself in their shoes, do you really think they do this on purpose? You know, in your heart, they don’t!

It takes time and patience, but believe me, you will find a pattern. This pattern is as unique as every child that has SID, no two are going to be the same.

Till next time
‘B’s Mum

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Seasons come, seasons go…

and in SID land we meet the incoming seasons with some trepidation!


Changing seasons have a funny effect on our little SID folk, particularly summer to autumn and winter to spring. It’s not just the change in temperature, we also have the clocks to contend with.

So what happens? Bear in mind that SID kids’ brains are out of sync, their brains don’t always interpret the messages the way they should.

Example: In winter you’ll probably see ‘B’ insisting on wearing flip-flops, shorts, short sleeves and insisting that it’s too hot for a coat. If you feel her hands, she’s actually warm and toasty! In the spring she’ll put on her winter coat, button it up to the top, get out her boots and gloves and insist she’s freezing cold.

OK, so it does conjure up an amusing picture but it’s really not that funny. Their internal thermostats are running amok, their external bodies can sense a change in temperature and humidity but the brain is insisting the opposite.

Clock changes in our house take about a month to adjust to, her body clock refuses to get into sync (and why should it, they are after all known as the out of sync children LOL), so we have ‘B’ not only dressing inappropriately, but wanting to do so at the time her internal clock tells her to.

This year is different for us in that ‘B’ is now home-schooled. This at least means that when her body refuses to wake up she can at least let it sleep. In theory this should help as she will be able to follow her own rhythm instead of the clocks! That’s the theory anyway, we’ll let you know what happens in reality.

Till next time
‘B’s Mum