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Techniques to Help an Autistic Child Eat: Making Mealtime a Success

Techniques to Help an Autistic Child Eat: Making Mealtime a Success

Struggling to get your picky eater to eat something other than chicken nuggets? We get it. Getting an autistic child to eat a well-rounded diet can feel like trying to pilot a rocket blindfolded. But don’t worry, we’ve got your back with actionable, easy-to-follow strategies that will have your child exploring new foods in no time!

Start Small, Win Big: The Power of Tiny Steps

The first rule of thumb is to introduce new foods slowly. Think of this as a gentle nudge rather than a cannonball. Start by offering tiny portions of the new food alongside a favorite dish. Even if they just sniff or lick it, that’s a win!

Food Fun: Make It an Adventure

Getting creative can do wonders. Turn the food into fun shapes or playful scenes. Use cookie cutters or bento box accessories to make meals visually appealing. When food looks like a game, kids are more likely to give it a try. And who doesn’t want to eat a sandwich shaped like a dinosaur?

Routine Is Your Friend

Consistency is key. Make mealtimes predictable with a set time and place. Visual schedules can be really helpful here. Your child will know what to expect, minimizing anxiety and making them more open to trying new foods.

Celebrate Their Wins

Positive reinforcement goes a long way. Celebrate even the smallest victories. Did they taste a new vegetable? That calls for a celebratory dance or a sticker on their chart! Reinforce these behaviors consistently to build a positive association with trying new foods`[1]`.

Turn Down the Distractions

A calm, distraction-free environment can make a world of difference. Turn off the TV, put away the toys, and focus on mealtime. A quieter setting can help your child concentrate on the food in front of them.

Keep Calm and Carry On

Picky eating can be frustrating, but staying calm is crucial. If your child senses your stress, it can make mealtime more challenging. Keep the mood light and pressure-free. Remember, this is a marathon, not a sprint`[2]`.

Use a Reinforcement System

Consider employing a points system to reward specific eating behaviors. For example, trying a bite of a new food might earn them extra playtime or a coveted activity later. Be consistent and immediate with rewards to reinforce the behavior effectively.

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