Pizza and the Art of a Low Key Response

Emma ate a slice of pizza last night.

That sentence required some space.  It needed to be written by itself with nothing else.  For most of you, this may seem like an excuse-me-while-I-yawn moment.  But for us, it was a DID-YOU-SEE-THAT-STOP-THE-CONVERSATION-EMMA-IS-EATING-PIZZA-FOR-THE-FIRST-TIME-SINCE-SHE-WAS-FOUR-YEARS-OLD moment.  Please excuse me while I dance a little jig,  do a little arm twirling while yelling woo-hoo, spin around, do a few jumps up and down and shout as loud as I can, “Oh yeah!  Oh yeah!”  And, I don’t know, this might be totally overdoing it, but what the hell, a fist bump, just for good measure.

Emma ate a slice of pizza last night.

While other parents are counting the years when they will no longer be required to sit down to one more meal in a pizza parlor, or wonder how they’re going to fit four large, now empty, cardboard boxes into their trash bin, we are rejoicing.  This is HUGE.  We had dinner with friends who have two boys about the same age as Nic and Emma.  And there was pizza.  And then suddenly there was Emma happily digging in as though this was a food she eats all the time.  As though nothing extraordinary was going on at all.  As though sitting at the dinner table with a group of other kids eating what they were eating happens all the time.  I will end this now, because really there’s nothing more I can say.

I was planning to write a whole post about comments and commenting, but I’ll have to save that for tomorrow.  This was just too good to pass up.  Joe said, “Did you take a photo?”  But I was so excited, I forgot, so you’ll just have to trust me.

Emma ate a slice of pizza.

For more on Emma’s journey through a childhood of autism, go to:   Emma’s Hope Book

12 responses to “Pizza and the Art of a Low Key Response

  1. YAY!!! I will do a jig for you and for Emma as well! Sometimes, I think how lucky I am to be able to get so excited over little things that people take for granted because i think it somewhat allows me for a brief moment to slightly experience the utter joy that Emma does on a daily basis over life in general. Not sure if I am communicating this in an effective way that anyone can understand, but Emma has overwhelming joy over such small things ….it is like that original blog I sent to you about the joys of autism. So dance, do the jig and twirl…..celebrate good times come on!!!!

  2. I started to cry when I read the pizza sentence. The joy in Aspen must be almost uncontainable.

  3. Kelly- I know EXACTLY what you mean! I was even going to make up a little song about pizza, but thought that might be overdoing it, so I went with the dance a little jig bit! XXX

    Barli – yes, not to be contained! And why should it be, right?! Sending you love.

  4. Congrats to Emma!

    And on a food note, Pizza is something I can tolerate, but do not really enjoy. Unless there’s no tomato sauce. Because tomato sauce plus cheese plus bread plus toppings is just WAY too many different textures. And tomato sauce is the one that is the most “slimy” (my word for foods that have a texture I dislike). So if Emma’s eating preferences are at all like mine, this is a MAJOR step!! Congratulations to her 🙂

  5. Oh E. that is such a nice note. Thank you always for your experience and insights. So here’s a quick question – our typical response to Em’s extremely limited food choices is to not get too involved. For example, when I fix something at home everyone sits down and I’ll give Emma a tiny (as in minuscule) portion, it’s actually an exaggeration to call it a portion, more like a taste of whatever I’ve fixed. We ask that she taste it and that’s it. If she likes it – great, and if she doesn’t, no big deal.
    But given the textures, (maybe the smells, I don’t know and don’t want to presume here, maybe the color of the food) is asking her to taste something, even if it’s literally almost so small you can barely see it with the naked eye, asking too much? I realize you don’t know our daughter, but in your opinion, would this have been asking too much of you?
    These are the things I am almost constantly grappling with. When is it too much? When is it pushing too hard?
    I know each child is different, but I also know Emma’s limited food choices are at least in part due to sensory issues. That she also likes what is familiar and and doesn’t want to try new things only exacerbates her limited diet. And by the way, I don’t let myself get too crazy with all of this, as I just can’t get behind the whole food battle. Having said that would love your thoughts.

  6. I think you handle food exactly right… Give Emma the chance to TRY something, and if she likes it, then great, if not, then oh well, try again in a year or two. My issue growing up was that my mother didn’t take “no” for an answer. I was once sat at the table for 7 hours while I tried to choke down a piece of quiche. There was no “try” in my household.

    I will say, however, that my ability to eat different foods really blossomed when I was about 15 or 16 – it took quite a while. But once I got to that age, I started trying things a lot more. And I realized that there were definitely foods that I’d been scared of before that weren’t that scary. It also helped that my mother had finally stopped instigating the “YOU WILL EAT ALL OF IT ALWAYS” rule most of the time. But now, I will try one bite of nearly anything. If I don’t like it, I won’t eat it again, but I will almost always try something. (I say almost because sometimes I just don’t have the energy to try something I’m pretty sure is going to cause sensory overload.)

    So really, just keep trying! Only AFTER I discovered Autism did I realize that my food sensitivities were texture-based. Before then it was just a “eww I can’t eat this” reaction. Now I can intellectualize it, and work around it. For example, I LOVE Indian food – all of the spices, flavors, and everything. But I can only eat it with rice. LOTS of rice. Because rice is a texture equalizer. I cut up whatever meat is in the dish into tiny bites, mix it with the rice, and then I’m good to go. So for me, it really is about textures most of the time. For my little sister, who is also a super duper picky eater, she is the opposite – her issue is taste, texture doesn’t matter.

    I could (and likely will) write a whole post on two or who knows on my blog… But until then, I hope my ramble made sense. I think you’re doing exactly the right thing – have her try things. She might surprise herself. And really, tastes change, we mature. If something doesn’t work today, try again. Not tomorrow, but in a year or two.

  7. 7 hours… Ugh! So grateful you were able to endure and now are writing about it. So just for that alone; I thank you.

    And in addition, I also thank you for stressing the “year or two,” which I have to admit made me laugh. I hear you!
    By the way Emma does the rice thing. So interesting reading that you too do this. She also does the same thing with applesauce. It’s like it’s a stabilizer or something.

  8. I say “in a year or two” because if you try too soon, the direct miserable sensory memory will still be there. You have to give it time to erase, otherwise we go in prejudiced. 🙂

  9. Got it. Also in keeping with Henry Markram’s Intense World Theory about memory.

  10. Brett will only do crunchy for the most part….He will not eat ice cream, applesauce, pudding, yogurt anything mushy like that. You will try and introduce it and he politely pushes your hand away! Sometimes things will get close enough to a try but it will have to undergo the “smell” test! He does this a lot with cookies for some reason! He holds it up to his nose and takes a big sniff. I am not sure what he is looking for but some get eaten and some don’t! :O) I think it bothers me more because I LOVE food and feel like he is missing out! LOL! I agree all we can do is keep presenting different things to them over time….. Best wishes!

  11. WOW! That’s soooo exciting. We had a similar moment last year

    Zack ate a bean!

    Just one green bean. . . And even now it only happens once a month or so. Very exciting stuff as he has sensory issues, and will NOT eat anything green on the whole.

  12. Thank you so much for commenting and reading your comment made me remember something I know about Emma, but forget. When you wrote – Zack ate a bean and that “now it only happens once a month or so.” Because often in my excitement I assume that Emma now eats pizza, but that isn’t necessarily the case. She may eat it again in a month, a week or many months from now. I forget that until it happens and then I remember. But it doesn’t take away from our excitement, like yours, with Zack eating a bean! I love that. Good for Zack!

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