Riding the wave of my previous day’s success, I fully expected to come home last night to find Emma agreeable to whatever was placed on her plate. With visions of cheerful family dinners in my mind I set about making Hollandaise Sauce (with those duck eggs and Ghee). Making hollandaise is a meditative endeavor, I’ve learned. I cannot carry on a conversation with someone else while preparing it. I must be focused, attentive with a certain amount of serenity or the whole thing curdles or separates. I didn’t have any lemons, so I used a lime instead and all went fairly well, though it wasn’t as thick as the hollandaise I usually am able to whip up. I steamed the asparagus, cooked the salmon steaks, drizzled everything with hollandaise and called everyone to the table where upon Emma took one look at her miniscule serving and said, “No! I don’t want to taste it. It’s okay. It’s okay. Just lick it. You have to put your finger in it to taste. Just one bite. Taste it. I don’t want to taste it! I don’t like this.” And then she began to whimper.
It was one of those Sybil moments, with Emma scripting using her “stern” voice, then mimicking a TA at her school to take one bite, just one bite, then Emma’s own sad voice pleading and on it went. Finally I said, “Em you have to taste it, then you can have some grapes and apple (skinned).
“Okay, okay, okay,” she said, dipping her finger into the hollandaise. “Taste it!” She smelled the hollandaise, then tentatively licked her finger before looking at me with an expression of pure misery. “I don’t like it, Mommy. I don’t like this.”
My family dinner a la Norman Rockwell fantasy fizzled and I felt an overwhelming desire for someone to come and feed her for a month or two – get her eating a whole variety of lovely, nutritional foods before disappearing again.
Later Nic came over to me and put his arms around me. “Hey Mom?”
“I don’t mind this diet so much. I still get to eat all my favorite things.” He smiled at me.
“Oh, Nic. That’s so nice of you. You’ve been such a trooper with all of this.” I gave him a hug. “Thanks for being such a good sport. It means a lot to me.”
“It’s no problem, Mom.”
This morning as I made my way to my studio I thought about when we tackled Emma’s bedwetting. We did our homework, found an alarm to alert us to when she’d peed, whereupon we rushed her to the bathroom and eventually she was out of diapers, sleeping through the night with no accidents. All of that seems like ages ago, but in fact it was just over a year now. It took three solid months before she learned to use the toilet without incident during the night. I expect it will take that much time or longer for her to become accustomed to eating new and different foods.
For more on Emma’s journey through a childhood of autism, go to: www.EmmasHopeBook.com
Don’t give up. It takes a long time to change eating patterns. I still battle with my oldest- he will look at a food and say- I don’t eat that- I don’t like that!” like you we insist he at least touch it, lick it and have one teeeny bite. Is there any way you can give Emma a choice about what to have for a meal? Obviously from the approved list of ingredients – but let her feel she has some control. I think the need for control is very important ot our kids. Right now she has lost all the predicatability with what she will be eating.
Yes, her whole world has been turned upside down. Though she ate four tiny forkfuls of a chicken dish I made with butternut squash, golden raisins and coconut rice this evening! I couldn’t believe it. I think she kind of liked it because she kept saying, “You have to take another bite!” even though I hadn’t said anything and was washing dishes in the sink. It definitely helps when I don’t sit next to her, but put the food on a plate, set it in front of her and walk away. And yes, I think you’re right about needing to feel she has some say in what she chooses. I do this often. Which one Em? And then give her two or three options. Sometimes she’ll say – Granola! and then I give it to her and she sees what granola actually is and she’ll say, “No, no, no, no!” and then pick something else.
When they’ve taken a small bite, but say they don’t like it, then do you let them have a choice of something you know they do like? That’s what we’ve been doing with Emma so far. Seems to work okay.
Yes. It is mainly Liam. He doesn’t want to try anything new. Roslyn is much easier these days. It was a raw stage for a while and then the food had to mostly be separate, then she only ate the thing she liked the most on the plate. She still needs some reminding to eat everything but is pretty good. We used to have to pretend we didn’t want her to eat something and leave it on the kitchen bench and walk way- she thought she was stealing it and winning somehow- so would then eat it! Liam is the more accepting of the GFCF diet though , Roslyn wants toe eat everything and finds it hard at parties having to have different foods. Liam will accept this as he knows he doesn’t feel well when he eats the food. I remeber when it was near impossible just to get the kids to sit down at the table to eat.
Thats great she liked the chicken dish- it sounds nice.
It seems so unfair things are a struggle for our kids already and then to have to not be able to eat like everyone else too…