Remember Waste Not, Want Not yesterday? Well, I have flushed most of a brownie down the toilet already this morning. (Not compostable and too mushy for food waste.)
In an effort to extend our stock and conserve chocolate chips strictly for cookies, I changed the recipe. It was not chocolate enough for @PanKwake. Luckily, 1) I made a small batch and 2) Alan likes them.
But this highlights one of our challenges with total self-isolation:
@PanKwake’s limited diet.
Many, most, if not all autistic people have sensory issues. These can and often do impact their eating habits either due to smell, taste, texture, or even the amount of energy/effort it takes to chew their food.
@PanKwake has always been one of those people. We even had occupational therapy when she was younger to try and address the issue. I also tried using the food pyramid to encourage her to eat more balanced meals as well as dolls and plastic food. She can make a perfect meal for her Billy (fav doll) but would never eat it herself. I also involved her in cooking meals (at least when she was little, no way I can do that now). She would prepare things for others that she would not touch. P.S. She got the name @PanKwake because pancakes are one of her approved foods.
The one thing that did make some difference and actually got her to try new things, a couple fo which made it into her approved foods list was, you guessed it, YouTube. Channels like Good Mythical Morning with their ‘Will It…’ challenges and Shane Dawson‘s milkshakes (Warning: Strong Content), as well as YouTube challenges like ‘eat it or wear it’ captivated her.
We even subscribed to Universal Yums which is a package of snack foods from different countries that are delivered directly to your door every month. She loves doing it with her friends or companions. She will try almost everything in the box as long as 1) she smells it first, 2) she can spit it out, and 3) she has lots and lots of water to wash the taste away.
Nonetheless, food continues to be our biggest challenge, even more than her erratic schedule or getting her out of the house. She has perhaps three dozen approved foods. Many of which are soft and contain loads of dairy.
Even then she can taste the smallest changes in recipes as this morning’s brownie debacle illustrates. But even before this, we have had trouble. A year or so ago, the UK government required all drinks to lower their sugar content or face higher taxes. Good idea, right? Except that meant that every single last one of her chocolate milks were no longer acceptable. There went her milkshakes with Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Judge Brownie ice cream.
As then we are scrambling for solutions. Amazon pantry has some chocolate chips in stock but not the right kind. We discussed it though and she says to give them a try, at least in the brownies. That will allow us to save the Dr. Oetker ones for her cookies. Fingers crossed that works, we never did find a solution for the milkshakes.
So, if your young person is autistic or simply a picky eater, what do I recommend?
1) Talk openly about the situation. Explain the challenges we face. Even do a bit of math with them; just how many batches of cookies and brownies can we make from the chocolate chips we have on hand.
2) Don’t try to fool them. Don’t change the recipe without telling them. Just like we want and need to trust our governments for accurate information and solutions right now, so, they need to be able to trust us to keep them safe and fed during this crisis.
3) Don’t bully or chastise them. They are NOT doing this on purpose. They are not trying to make your life hard. Their taste buds or sensory issues truly are that sensitive. Respect that they are doing the best they can, too.
4) Give them choices. Make them part of the decision making process. Empower them to come up with options and have the final say. WARNING: Don’t pressure with this one. Give them the information and allow them time to process, something that takes longer for us autistic people.
One thing that you can do to support them is to reach out, build a support network of neighbors and friends, who can shop for you when you can’t and with new item limits in place, can increase your purchasing power. I used to clear the shelves of dark chocolate chips in Sainsbury’s, but with new three-item limits that is no longer possible. Three packs only make one batch of chocolate chip cookies in our @HomeCrazzyHome.
In these trying times, don’t forget our @HomeCrazzyHome recipe of:
It is more important than ever. We are all in this together.
Special thanks to our neighbor, who thought of us this morning when she went out. She helped us to avert another crisis, a Dr. Pepper one. And to my beloved artist friend, Judith, whose paintings brighten my day and who is helping me to take the garden to the next level. And of course, to my bestest quilting buddy, Hev, who is one of the NHS superheroes on the frontlines of this war.
Goddess bless and keep you safe,
From our @HomeCrazzyHome to yours.