Picky Eaters

My 3 year old son with autism won't eat anything but McDonald's fries, pancakes, and PB & J sandwiches. I have tried every trick in the book. Any suggestions? (Accepting potty training tips too.)


Robin from Palm Bay, FL

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By Lee-Ann (Guest Post)
November 16, 20060 found this helpful

I am not sure, Robin, but I have a 3 yr. old daughter newly diagnosed with autism and would love to hear from you, if you're interested...You could leave a response and let me know.

My daughter is in the midst of potty training. It's not progressing too far and she will only eat carbs/junk food. I can get her to take a multivitamin though.

I am beside myself and feel like this is too much for me to handle. I really feel lost.

God Bless.

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November 16, 20060 found this helpful

My daughter is 3 1/2 and was diagnosed with autism late last year. She is super picky and is also a carb/junk food-only eater. I would love to talk more and share ideas with you guys if you'd like to. My daughter is nearly potty trained finally! She fought it for months and all of a sudden it seems as though something "clicked" and a couple of weekends ago she just ran up to me and said she had to go potty and she hasn't looked back since.


I guess up until then she just wasn't ready and now she's diaper free during the day and wears a pull up during naps and nighttime. Good luck - it's such a hard time going through the whole potty training thing - especially when you're child is autistic - no matter how well functioning they are. Sending hugs and hope to hear from anybody who'd like to talk more.

Jennifer, Michigan

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November 16, 20060 found this helpful

Lee-ann you need to find some support. It is a lot to handle but after time it becomes easier. Please communicate with someone all of your concerns and if you'd like, we can talk about it thru emails. my address is robinflanary6 AT yahoo.com. Feel free to write me anytime. Smiles.

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November 16, 20060 found this helpful

Robin, I have a 3 y.o. grandson with autism. His Mom finds he accepts finger foods better than others. Have you tried fruit with peanut butter on it.


cubes of cheese, crackers, and small pieces of veggies. Sometimes he does better if he can carry his food around with him. I know this is not good manners, but may help at home. Linda

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By carla bledsoe (Guest Post)
November 16, 20060 found this helpful

along with getting support from others you might check out the gluten free websites for tips for children with autism. many are found to have gluten sensitivity and shouldn't eat foods made with gluten containing grains. primarily wheat. as in buns, cookies and cakes. a lot of parents seem to find the gluten free diet a great help to their autistic children. i do not have autism but i am gluten sensitive and you wouldn't believe the difference there is when you stop eating foods that contain gluten. i have so much more energy and focus and thank heaven, less depression. good luck

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By Julie (Guest Post)
November 16, 20060 found this helpful

We have a 2 year old daughter, not autistic, but very simular symptoms. We are looking at chelation therapy for her to get her system right. We recently ran a Heavy metals test on her hair, with astonishing results, she has heavy levels of lead, among other things. Her natural elements are all messed up in her body. I believe once we go through the chelation, she will be rid of everything negative in her body, thus making her normal again - No bad eating habits and no hyperisms....Please, if anything, try to run a heavy metals test on your child, that will at least tell you what you are up against here.


I have read many success stories for autistic children with this therapy. A friend of mine has a 3 year old who was autistic and is now 80% cured doing this chelation. It's important to find a doctor who knows about it. God Bless and Best wishes! Mom of 4, twinsand2more

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November 16, 20060 found this helpful

1st to your question. i work with autistic kids. we are told from the get go that they only eat certain things. some wont drink juice, some wont eat yogurt or veggies or anything yellow or green. what we find at school if they are REALLY HUNGRY they will eat. we make them taste everything. i am sure iit is devestating at home that they only eat certain things. but these kids are smart in their own way. we find that they usually have everyone bamboozeled. i really would suggest offering her what you want her to eat and nothing else. these children really learn what they are taught and if they are taught the adult will give in then they are just as stubborn as can be.


i do ask you to be careful with the chelation. i am not saying it is bad but 1 of my kids at school is doing it and his behaviors have been much worse since starting chelation.

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By Linda (Guest Post)
November 16, 20060 found this helpful

Do not give in to tantrums for this unhealthy diet. I am a special ed teacher and know from experience that hungry children will eat. PB&J on a healthy bread, made with low or no sugar fruit spreads is pretty healthy. Can you sneak in sliced banana or thin-sliced apple or pear? I would end all trips to McD"s immediately. Sneak pureed fruits and vegies into pancakes, or maybe he will eat pancake rol-ups with sausage or bacon, or fruit inside. Many kids like to dip foods-will he dip pancake rolls into yogurt or the like. Does he drink milk or eat any dairy. Calcium is very important. Be sure he gets a multi vita and maybe a calcium supplement daily. Offer foods in a no-stress manner, just put them on plate and after being confronted with a food many times he will probably take a taste. Don't get into power struggles over food-you can't win these.

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November 16, 20060 found this helpful

First, from a GRANDMOTHER: your child has learned some tricks!! However, if you stay AWAY from McDonalds for a month, you will see that there are OTHER things this child will eat or drink. Perhaps you could try a type of reverse psychology with him, regardless of his Autism?


Since his choice is salty AND sweet, I'd postpone eating normally yourself, to eat ONLY the things you KNOW HE likes to eat, but do NOT look his way OR offer him any UNLESS he comes TO YOU for a bite or two.

Let HIM approach you. STOP TRYING SO HARD TO GET HIM TO EAT. He really likes to PLAY at McDonalds,you know, and you likely prefer to have him "happy" and "fed", but you are doing him NO GOOD by going there. (Have you seen the video, "Supersize Me", about the man
who deliberately ate ALL of his meals at McDonalds
and almost DIED? )

Until McDonalds KEEPS their many past "official"
PROMISES to TRULY make ALL of their "food" nutritious and healthy, rather than the reverse, WE

Also, when you cook, get a stool and allow him to "Watch" and "help", IF he seems interested. Give him:

a spoon to stir
a plastic bowl to mix something in
a tiny spatula to "turn" things, if he's able
and a wad of mixed dough for something to squish
or shape, perhaps a few "spinkles", then cook and taste, IF he wants.

Don't fear his lack of appetite, rather purchase Bugs
Bunny Brand Sugarfree Chewable Vitamins/Minerals
Complete to have on hand to crush up and sprinkle on whatever food/drink he might show "interest" in that YOU are going to consume NON-CHALANTLY in his plain view. Even if a week of nagging, crying, begging passes, DO NOT GIVE IN. The vitamins WILL increase his appetite !

One medical doctor on TV said that phosphorus in one form or another is added to things to encourage
"addictions" to that food/drink, which WORK. Ordinarily, I'd be against it, but in your case, you MIGHT find it working to your advantage?

In analyzing your son's "choice" of foods, you might
begin eating your OWN PB & J sandwiches EACH DAY, with the crust cut off so he can see the contents. Do NOT offer him one, or even MAKE him one UNTIL he ASKS for it.

Another day, make your OWN FRIES, NOT offering him a single bite UNTIL he asks for it. Do not even LOOK at him before, during, or after the meal UNLESS he ASKS for it during this "trial" time.

Make your OWN pancakes, except add EXTRA VANILLA flavor to them, because he is obviously attracted to the fragrance to the Vanilla AND the
MAPLE syrup fragrances. THESE CAN BE THE VERY
DRAW for you, IF you CAREFULLY IGNORE him,...
WANTS ....unless he ASKS! Stick to your guns for
a month and I believe you will see a turn around!

May God bless your efforts, give you the strength
to stand firm, and help you to help the child He has given you to steward. : )

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November 16, 20060 found this helpful

Oops! I forgot to add to my feedback below this, that AFTER you get this child WANTING to eat at home, GRADUALLY you can begin to add something DIFFERENT to what YOU eat in his presence, THE SAME WAY YOU DID WITH THE FOODS HE "PREFERS", BUT gradually thinking along the "granola" lines, and SunChips, and mixed nuts, etc., being EXTRA CAREFUL NOT TO ADD THEM TO YOUR OWN DIET FASTER THAN ONCE A MONTH for the first six months. He obviously has difficulty with changes?

This will prevent your child from reverting BACK to being "set" in what tricks he has learned that you will respond to. It should be a WAY OF LIFE for you to REQUIRE that he ASK for something you are cooking or eating, even if it's a cry or shout.

Once he has done this a few times, you are on the path to better things for him. In the meantime, make your pancakes TINY, and your PB& J sandwiches LESS JELLY/MORE PEANUT BUTTER, then
let your fries get BIGGER with more potato and less grease...etc.

Learn to watch him from the corner of your eye, letting him think you are NOT watching, in hopes that you can bring all of this about. Watch his sugar, in the foods you have around for him to consider.
Salt is not as big an offender, but the sugar can truly alter some children's behavior. It makes my grandchild climb the walls in a remarkable way that even he recognizes it and now restrains himself.

I hope some of this helps you, dear heart. : )

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November 17, 20060 found this helpful

Please be aware that children with autism are not your basic picky eaters. They are not trying to be difficult either. The textures of different foods is what gives them problems. Their brains--which do not function like normal brains in every way-- simply will not allow them the pleasures a normal person finds in food. They are not able to make the choice to eat something and like it. An overwhelming repulsion to the texture of certain foods drives them to refuse the item.

The only thing I can equate this to, is a friend who was going through chemotherapy said that she acquired an aversion to foods she had loved and eaten for years. She claimed it was more than the taste, sort of the feeling of the foods in her mouth. She explained it as an extreme sensitivity her taste buds developed that made her nauseas if she exposed herself to these textures. Her body would not allow her to tolerate the foods. After being off chemo for a while, her taste in foods returned to normal.

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By Cindy (Guest Post)
November 17, 20060 found this helpful

My son, who is 7, and on the autism spectrum, also was very finicky. Ironic thing is, the things he craved the most are what he is not supposed to have. He has been on a gluten free/casein free diet for about 5 months, and we are seeing alot of improvement. You can find GF pancake mix from Bob's Red Mill. It won't have the gluten and he won't miss it. Also, try rice milk instead of cow's milk. It comes in white or chocolate. Our grocery store carrie GF bread, unfortunately it is pricey, but it cleans that out of his system, and once we did that, my son was much more receptive to new foods. I would also recommend staying off all food colors (red 40, yellow 6 and such) Feel free to write, there is so much more to know! cdircks AT mcleodusa.net

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By Pam Mundorf (Guest Post)
November 20, 20060 found this helpful

Greetings from another mother in your shoes! As far as toilet training, there is a site that gives some great tips. It is AutistimToiletTraining.com. It was recommended to me and I have found some great tips. Alas, we are not trained yet, but we keep working. Bless you and your child, and we wish you successes.

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By Sheri Dean (Guest Post)
July 7, 20070 found this helpful

Hi, my son Conner (8) took forever to potty train too (he was almost 7 when we really got it). I'd like to share what worked with you!! Conner is an extremely visual learner, so I took some pictures of his (very cooperative) brother going through each step of toiletting...the pictures were clear, and showed what was supposed to happen in the toilet. I would take him to the bathroom and point to each stage of the process while using hand over hand to help with clothing and toilet paper. Soon after that stage, Conner was "trip-trained" he would go whenever I told him to...but never initiated the process. If I took him to the bathroom on a regular basis, he was dry, but if I forgot...we had a mess.
By this time he was able to read, so I wrote out a schedule for him, telling him where it was appropriate to pee and poop, and that it wasn't OK to do it in his pants. This finally seemed to do the trick!! After only a few days, he was nearly accident free. Apparently, my son just needed to know the "rules" of toiletting....and I had to be extremely vigilant. It took time for the Mom to be ready....once I was commited to the process, Conner progressed.

I hope this helps!

Love and Support,
Sheri D

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By Shannon (Guest Post)
August 22, 20070 found this helpful

My son is also three and will not eat hardly anything either. I use to live in Palm Bay, Fl and now live in Arden, NC. I wish i could give you some helpful advice but i'm in the same boat. Have you had any luck recently. I also am having a horrible time with potty training. I pray everynight for answers.
shannon28704 AT yahoo.com

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By Starla (Guest Post)
November 9, 20070 found this helpful

Yes the sneaky chef book.

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