Good changes

Like many children with ASD, Frances has a severely restricted range of foods that she will eat.

I have to explain: there are several foods that she will eat in general, including vegetables, but, in a single week, she will focus only on one or two foods. (She also won’t eat food that is soft or food that is at room temperature or combination foods such as sandwiches, soups, pizza, etc. Food served must appear the same way that it has always appeared or it’s “not the same” and she won’t eat it.) Meltdowns at meals are inevitable even when the food options and appearance are acceptable, and we’ve accepted this as being just the way it is.

Anyway, this week’s appointment with the occupational therapist pretty much consisted of me telling her that we didn’t stick to the food plan that she had devised. We were supposed to make it so that Frances couldn’t eat the same food within a three-day period.

Yikes, that schedule didn’t go well. First, it represents change for which Frances has a low tolerance in general; secondly, we went on vacation and food sources were restricted mostly to restaurants. We did have a two-bedroom apartment for the duration, but our plan of buying groceries and eating in wasn’t as practical as we had anticipated that it would be.

Also, with the disruption of routines that vacations bring, we didn’t want to add to this stress by forcing a change in her eating at that point.

Now, this week, we are home, she is settled at school as well as in her social group, piano lessons, and horse riding lessons, and we are trying again.

I can say for certain that it isn’t “just picky eating”, and she really won’t eat anything if she gets hungry enough. She just won’t eat. So, a strict schedule involving foods that we know that she will eat is definitely the only path to take.

In contrast, Pink Cup Sister IS a picky eater. The difference is that there is no pattern to what she will or what she will not eat. She simply likes something or does not like it, and she is hard-pressed to tell you why either way: it tastes good to her or it does not. She also will attempt to eat what she doesn’t like if she’s hungry.

But, with Frances, it is hard work getting her to eat what she needs. It’s certainly in her best interests to keep trying and making sure that she has whatever supplements that she requires. There just isn’t much left in her range of acceptable foods after ruling out softness, room temperature, combinations, and differences in appearance.

Fortunately, Frances is very good at achieving goals, and I’ll help her do this, too.

She’s such a gentle soul that I always want to tread softly over ground that is difficult for her.

Advertisements

Lights

Since about 9 months of age, Frances has been fascinated by light-emitting objects: book lights, flashlights, house lights — during the day and during the night. 

Once she is distracted by a light-emitting object, it is very hard to redirect her attention. Unless it’s at bedtime, we generally don’t mind, though we discourage turning house lights on and off repeatedly. 

(In the following panel, she is eight years old.)

 

Early on

 
One thing I found unusual was that she did not want to be held by anyone (at times, even by me). She arched her back as if to get away, and immediately cried or shrieked until she was comfortable again. This continued throughout toddlerhood and the preschool days. 

At this point, she does not like to be touched unexpectedly; when asked for a hug, she usually just leans into the person if she responds at all. (Hugging others spontaneously when she wants to, however, is another subject for another time.)

I do sometimes, in a low mood, think back to the times when one of our relatives told me that it was my fault that Frances wouldn’t let anyone hold her.

In those days, at any rate, we were several years away from a diagnosis.