A Granny Smith Breakthrough: Success with A New Food!

A Granny Smith Breakthrough

Bright green, shiny apples. They must have been speaking pretty loudly in order to get Stevie’s attention amidst the cluttered kitchen.

Stevie doesn’t eat fruit. Or vegetables... or protein for that matter.  He’s a crackers and cereal kind of kid with his super restrictive and self-imposed diet on top of a few food allergies that restricts him even more.

Stevie has autism, which includes a heavy dose of Sensory Processing Disorder.  He stopped eating all but a handful (literally) of foods between 18 months and 2 years of age. Restrictive eating is a very common symptom of autism spectrum disorder.

But the other day as I was picking up some toys my 3 year old had strung across the floor, I happened to glance over at Stevie.

He looks at me with that look that says, “I’m doing something and I might get in trouble for it so I’ll hide it.”

“What are you doing, Stevie?”  His look begged the question.

“Eat the apple?”

“Are you really going to eat it? As in, put it in your mouth and sink your teeth into it kind of eat it?”

He puts it up to his mouth and bites just enough to make an indentation as he continues to look at me.

I watch a tiny drop of juice dribble down the side of the Kermit-colored apple. I see him sneak a taste and I wonder what he thinks of it.

“Eat it.  Goodbye Mommy!” (This is his tactic to get rid of us when he wants to do something he isn't supposed to.)

I honestly didn’t think he would eat the apple. Usually, if he has a piece of fruit, he plays with it until it is destroyed into looking like a decomposed bruised and mushy mess.

But this apple must have been begging to be tasted, so Granny-Smith green and tart. And that one enchanting droplet of juice just sealed the deal for him.

I leave him alone for a minute and return to spy him biting all the way through the crisp green skin, chewing, swallowing and biting again as he contemplates this new experience.

The tart.

The sweet.

The crunchy.

The irresistible!

Not only did he eat the one apple, but he asked for another one and ate that too!

And not only did he eat an apple for the first time in years, but he ate it whole!  In the past, it had to be cored and cut in thin slices and he’d eat just the middles.  But this time? He sat at the table like the 10 year old that he is, and ate the apple whole. One big teeth sinking sensory bite after another.

It was a beautiful sight.

I always thought he’d eat new foods (eventually) in the same accidental way that the chocolate fell into the jar of peanut butter to create the concept of the first Reese’s Peanut-butter Cup (or so the commercial led us to believe) and he’d realize that other foods really do taste good (and that maybe it is ok if foods touch)!

Maybe this is the start of a sensory turn-around in the food department. Stevie started this life as extreme sensory aversive and defensive, but in the last few years he's been experimenting with more things in a sensory seeking style.  So maybe this next couple years will bring some experimenting with food!

Now It's Your Story Sharing Turn:

For those of you who have a restrictive eater, how do you introduce new food or encourage him or her to taste something new?

What was the turning point in your child's eating behavior if they have successfully expanded their diet?

For everyone else:  Don't you just want to go eat an apple? Remember to send up a toast to Stevie when you take that first bite!


The Baker And I

The Baker And I 3"Stevie, what are you doing?" I call out as he leaps over the gate that keeps our toddler from playing in the bathroom.

He returns as quickly as he left but with a cup of water in hand, and while checking my reaction he pours the water into the mixing bowl we had just been using to create bread dough.

I walk over to see what he's doing as he continues to pour everything he sees into the bowl: coffee, juice, water, Special K, etc.

It looks like a brown, muddy...mess.

He called it soup.

"It's soup?"

"No Stevie, it is NOT soup. It is gross. If you would like to make soup, then next time I am making it, I will let you help."

Next thing I know, he is wiping his mouth out with a towel and a very disgusted look on his face.

I cannot believe he tasted it!  Of all the things to taste, really??? YUCK!

 This will either be a major set back (for more on this story, click here) or a breakthrough,  I'm not sure which!

"Stevie, if you want to try something new, let me know and I will get you something yummy to taste. But don't eat yucky stuff." I said this hopeful that maybe, just maybe he'd taste the yummy bread that he made with me.

I love baking with Stevie. He gets so excited and loves to watch the concoction change with each ingredient. 

We've been baking a lot, not because it is Christmas, but because Stevie started this Christmas break from school with a pretty repulsive behavior which led to the loss of his beloved iPad.

This iPad is what he has been spending every possible waking moment on, and with it removed until he corrects his behavior, he has found a lot of spare time on his hands.  He's decided to fill that time with his new found love of baking. 

I could NOT be more thrilled! Since he can't do this active solo (although he does try, and we hope he doesn't burn the house down!) that means that this is a social activity!  And, an activity with ME!

Since this new obsession, he has been more interactive and engaged, and I am getting to teach him all I know about bread. I am changing up the recipe and the final product made from the bread dough, just to keep him flexible. 

One day we made a Turkey & Cheese Calzone, another a loaf of bread for sandwiches, rolls, and a raisin stuffed sweet bread as his Christmas gift to us!  It smelled so good while it cooked, and I even got Stevie to smell the cinnamon!  It tasted wonderfully. Everyone loved it.

Everyone, but Stevie who didn't have any interest in tasting it.  But each day begins a new day. Each day I am going to start fresh with him and assume he will try it even if he hasn't taken me up on it in 8 years. Some day, he will. And I sure hope he picks a yummy recipe to try when he does!

With this school year being exceptionally difficult for Stevie, with multiple seclusions on the majority of days, he has come home worn out and just wants to decompress under his blanket with his iPad. He seems to be coming out of  "it", whatever it is, and I am very thankful!  I have missed him and his silly overly-excited self.  

This bread baking has given us many more engaged chunks of time.  I am treasuring each moment like a the precious jewel that it is. I love that he is doing something WITH me, and having a good time being engaged with me.

We had such a great time baking the other day, and he wanted to have a photo-shoot while the bread was rising in the oven.  So I am leaving you with a sampling of the pictures to enjoy: