Autism and Food

Autism and Food

A subject I see talked about a lot on social media, is autism and food. It seems a lot of autistic people, especially children, have a very limited diet. There are different reasons why this might be the case, and it can go to extremes. A few years ago whilst being shown around a school, myself and Natalie bumped into parents of another autistic child. We had a quick conversation where they told us, their 7 year old son would only eat baby food.

Thankfully we’ve never had a problem with Jack, who I often refer to as the human dustbin. He doesn’t like spicy food, but other than that he eats pretty much anything. Lily on the other hand, is a different story. Before she had her own autism diagnosis, her “fussy” eating was a major concern for us. Now we know she is autistic as well, and that this seems to be fairly common. We have been slowly trying to expand her diet. So I’m going to look at what she eats, and how we are trying to expand her diet.

What Lily Eats

Like most kids she’s more than happy eating sweets, chocolate, cake and crisps. There are limits though, nothing sour, no jelly babies, only homemade icing, and only ready salted and quavers and wotsits.

The one good thing is Lily likes her fruit and veg, she will eat most fruits, other than oranges and other citrus fruit. She loves peas, carrots, broccoli, sweet corn and potato. After that though things get more limited, here’s a quick list of what she will eat.

  • Plain sausages
  • cocktail sausages
  • tinned beans & sausages
  • chicken nuggets (refusing recently)
  • boiled rice
  • plain pasta
  • white bread
  • Cream crackers
  • pepperoni pizza
  • burger (only recently)

She will also eat a few different cereals, until recently the milk had to be in a separate cup. Everything has to be plain, she won’t have sauce on anything, other can ketchup and gravy as long as they are in a separate bowl and not on the plate. Compared to what I’ve heard from others that’s not a bad list. It has taken some time and effort to slowly introduce new foods, or sometimes like recently. Lily randomly asked for a burger when Jack and I were having some.

Autism and food
Lily’s plain pasta meal

How to approach getting them to try new food

The way you approach getting your child to try new foods is very important, and that goes for any child not just an autistic one like Lily. I think we should be well past the days of, eat that or you’ll go hungry, that’ll teach them method. As my dad used to tell me, he was told by his dad. He half threatened that with me and my brother, but never followed it through.

When it comes to autism and food, you have to take the right approach. Just like with everything else with autism. The way we approach it with Lily, is the slow and steady approach. We always offer her everything that the rest of us have, and give her the choice to say yes or no. We get food in for her to try and offer it her. Only once, if she says no, leave it and try again another time. This has worked well with the fruit and vegetables. Keep showing her the foods and wait for her to become interested in them herself.

You never know what they are going to ask to try, I never expected her to ever want a burger. Just keep trying and it will take as long as it takes, Autism and food is not a subject that can be rushed. Getting Lily to learn to cook foods has also been helpful, she really enjoys it and it encourages her to touch different foods. Often it’s not the taste that’s the problem, if they won’t try it, how can it be? It’s the look, the feel and the texture of the food. Until recently I had to pick every last bit of cheese off of her pizza, before Lily would eat it. Now she eats the whole thing, perhaps making her own pizza helped with that? Click to see Lily’s pizza post!

Setbacks

Unfortunately like a lot of things with autistic children, there can be setbacks. Lily has visibly been finding things more difficult, the longer the current “lockdown” situation has gone on. As much as I’ve tried to keep her entertained, she struggles without her routine just like Jack does, and is missing her friends from school.

She has been saying she doesn’t know what she wants to eat a lot, and saying no to a lot of the things she’d normally eat. Thankfully pizza and roast potatoes and vegetables still always get a yes. I hope this is because of the anxiety and uncertainty of the current situation, and she will eventually go back to eating how she was.

We will have to see how that goes, taking the same approach as with new food. Offering it with no pressure, and letting her take her time. Are there any parents of autistic children in the same boat as us? Has the lockdown brought problems like this to the surface? And how have you been dealing with them? I’d love to hear from you in the comments. That’s all from me on autism and food, thanks for reading.

Dad Does Autism

Autism Father’s Day Gift Ideas

Autism Father’s Day Gift Ideas

With Father’s Day approaching, there are plenty of places to find gift ideas. What about Autism Father’s Day gift ideas? I’ve not seen anything specifically aimed at us, especially if you want something “autism themed”. If you are happy with the normal gifts then that’s great, but what is there on offer autism themed?

I’ve had a look about, and found the things I would most like to receive as a gift. I will be honest, though I don’t completely hate the jigsaw piece. It’s not for me, and a lot of the stuff out there has the jigsaw on. I have found some nice bits that don’t though, and here they are. For the record these are just things I personally like, I’m not being paid to advertise them.

My autism Father’s Day gift ideas

Autism parent slogan mug

There a lot of autism themed items over at www.zazzle.co.uk, this mug is my personal favourite. There’s nothing I like better than a cup of tea, so this would be perfect for me, and any other big tea or coffee drinker.

You can get one for £16.55

Dad of an Autistic Jedi t shirt

You can get these t shirts on Etsy, starting at £17.70, and in a variety of colours. Obviously a great gift for any Star Wars fan, and would be very apt for me. Jack likes to tell everyone he is a Jedi!

I.E.P logo

Autism Father’s Day gift ideas

I absolutely love this IEP logo. Over at Red bubble you can get it on numerous things, that are great Father’s Day Gift ideas. Ranging from stickers, prints and canvases, too cups, notebooks and t shirt. Loads of really cool gifts.

They are my favourite Autism Father’s Day gift ideas, like I said they 3 websites all have plenty more to offer is these 3 aren’t for the Dad in your life. Do you have a favourite? Do you know of any other places selling autism related items. I’d love to hear about them in the comments below.

Dad Does Autism

Visiting the Grandparents

Visiting the Grandparents

For those that have been regular readers from the start, you might remember that visiting the grandparents, was a regular Sunday routine before lockdown. We hadn’t been since the middle of March, but with the kids missing them, and especially their dog Mack. We decided we’d go over for a visit, and try and keep the kids to social distance.

It was lovely to get out to somewhere different for a change. My parents live out in the Derbyshire Dales, where it’s picturesque and lovely and quiet. So it’s always nice to go for a visit. When we got there I took a video of the kids seeing Mack, to see how excited they all were. To be fair, Mack is usually more excitable but it was a hot day.

It was nice of Mack to run straight past me, he did at least go to Lily. But his best buddy is undoubtedly Jack. All I’ve heard for the last 8 weeks is, “How do you think Mack is doing?” The kids have been so looking forward to this visit, it was great to finally do it.

A walk to the park

As it was such a lovely day, we decided to go for a walk to the local park. When we got there we had the park completely to ourselves. We played football, which was nice. I’m certainly out of practise, I was exhausted by the time we got back.

It was good to get out there in some fresh country air, on the sunshine. The kids absolutely loved it. I’m not sure when we will all go back again, we will see how things are. It is was really nice visiting the grandparents, and gave us all a boost.

Going out and about again

It’s been clear to see lots of people have been going out and about again, this was our step in that direction. We are all in pretty good health, so we decided it should be okay. I just had to remind the kids we still have to social distance before we went, which they were good at.

We won’t be rushing to the beach though, or any other tourist place that will be packed with people. It’s still too early for that in my opinion, and to be honest I don’t like crowded places anyway. So I’m in no massive rush to join the madness. How are you doing? Have you gone to see family yet? Or started venturing further afield. I’d love to hear how you are taking things, in the comments below.

Dad Does Autism

Lily’s baguette pizza bites

Lily’s baguette pizza bites

Lily always enjoys baking, so I decided to try something different with her. So today we made some baguette pizza bites. A simple thing to make, that I knew she would really enjoy. Pizza is one of the few things that Lily likes to eat, always with pepperoni.

Ingredients

This is a very simple thing to make, which is why it’s always a popular one to make with the kids. All you need is:

  • a baguette
  • tomato sauce (we used a jar of smooth sauce)
  • grated cheese
  • choice of toppings

Making the baguette pizza bites

I cut the the baguette up for Lily, as it was too fiddly, and difficult for her to do. After that it was all Lily, and I just sat back and watched. After putting the sauce and cheese on, she wanted to get the toppings we could find out. So she could make a different one for everyone.

We had quite a few things, including pepperoni (obviously), chorizo, Salami, ham, and peppers. Unfortunately for Jack no pineapple, as he likes his ham & pineapple. For the record Mum also likes her pepperoni, whilst I like everything hah…though if I had to pick a favourite I’d say a “vegetarian” pizza.

Lily made some pepperoni ones, a “meat feast” one, one with just peppers on, and a plain cheese one for Jack. Here’s a picture of a couple before they went in the oven.

Baguette pizza bites
Before cooking

Lily really enjoyed doing this, and I really enjoyed doing what comes next. The eating part! So this is something we will definitely be doing again. Add in a bit of salad and Lily had made tea (dinner, evening meal, whatever you call it where you’re from), and was really proud of herself. Which was really lovely too see. So, now for the finished article.

Cooked baguette pizza bites
after cooking

I had a meat feast and a pepper one, and both were really nice. I loved how apart from the cutting the bread, and putting the trays in the oven, it was all Lily just doing whatever she wanted.

Which leaves me to ask the question, which one of the 4 would you have had? Or what would you have preferred as toppings instead?

Dad Does Autism

Things not to do in a pandemic

Things not to do in a pandemic

It’s been an interesting day. If I was going to advise you of things not to do in a pandemic. Snapping your tooth clean off at the root, would be right at the top of the list. That’s exactly what Lily did today, whilst simply eating a cookie. Normally it wouldn’t be a massive issue. You’d ring up for an emergency dental appointment, and get it looked at.

Of course, these are not ordinary times. Dentists aren’t seeing patients, and it has taken all day. Just to try and sort out getting a prescription for some antibiotics. The dentist have told us they will ring us, as soon as they are seeing patients again. Until then we just have to hope Lily is alright.

Jack struggles to cope

Lily spent most of the morning crying, Jack stayed out of the way and seemed okay. I took him out for our usual walk, and things didn’t go to plan. Jack gets very anxious about flies, bees, wasps etc.. There was a lot about today, and in Lily being upset all morning. Plus the unusual and distressing situation we are all in anyway. It all got to much for him.

He had a full blown meltdown at the side of a busy road, and then got angrier because it was so busy. I don’t know how long it took to calm him down, but it felt like an age. We had a couple of people ask if I needed help, which is a nice thought. In reality it just makes things worse, as it sets Jack off. Eventually he calmed and we walked back calmly.

At home he said he was scared by the traffic. The traffic seemed much busier, than it has been in some time. Perhaps Jack had got used to the roads being so quiet, and couldn’t cope with the change back. Plus the the other stuff happening, it was just too much for him.

A nice evening

This evening I sat with Jack and we matched the movie, Shazam. Which we both loved, so the day finished well. I’m just going to have to think about what we are going to do for a walk, as I don’t fancy risking the same thing happening tomorrow. That won’t be good for either of us.

Things are calm as the day comes to a close, Lily seems okay and so does Jack. Breaking your tooth is definitely up there on the things not to do in a pandemic though.

Dad Does Autism

My 5 favourite autism quotes

My 5 favourite autism quotes

Today I decided to pick my 5 favourite autism quotes, and then using Canva to display them in a image. I’m still fairly new to using Canva, but I think I’ve done alright with these.

1.

My top 5 autism quotes

This one is such an important thing to remember, even with children like our Jack & Lily who are able to talk. They still often communicate in other ways, especially on times of distress.

2.

Quote 2

This really is so true, the things I have learned from Jack and Lily are incredible. I have grown as a person so much because of them.

3.

Quote 3

This one is probably my favourite one, and is the way to look at your autistic child’s learning. It might not be the conventional ways that work, but if you work with them they will find ways to learn.

4.

Quote 4

This is a nice one that gives a simple explanation of what autism can be like.

5.

My 5 favourite autism quotes

This is the one that everybody needs to understand. No one autistic person is that same, the spectrum is so wide and varied. Some have additional diagnosis as well, such as learning disabilities and some don’t. Which is why I always say that I’m no expert when it comes to Autism. I only know my 2 children, Jack and Lily’s needs.

They were my 5 favourite autism quotes. Which one is your favourite? Are there any others that I’ve missed, that are your favourite? Leave a comment below and tell me.

Dad Does Autism

Meet the Family

What’s in the box?

What’s in the box?

In the never ending battle to keep everyone entertained and happy, the latest thing Lily came up with was What’s in the box? I know it’s something Lily has seen on YouTube. She’s wanted to recreate a lot of the things she’s seen on there. This is a pretty simple and safe one to do, so I thought why not?

All you need is a cardboard box, and as Natalie is an Avon Rep. So we aren’t short of boxes in this house. The lid had already been taken off, so I just cut out some holes on each side and stood the box up. Which made it perfect for what we needed.

What’s in the box?

To be honest, it was surprisingly difficult to find items to put in the box. I started off with a croissant, a green pepper, some tissues and a M&Ms chocolate bunny. What I really love about the 4 photos above, is the 4 different emotions being shown on Lily’s face.

My favourite one we did was some whipped cream in a bowl, and as you can see from the photo below. It was certainly Lily’s favourite as well.

What’s in the box?

I found 4 more things for her to try and guess. A Lei necklace, a stuffed animal, a Easter bunny ornament and a large paint brush. Again there’s 4 different facial expressions. The paint brush one has to be my favourite, and took her the longest to figure out. She is only used to her own small paint brushes.

Why not try it yourself?

Have you ever played what’s in the box? It’s really simple as long as you have a box at hand, and is fun to do. You can even use it as a way to get your child, to handle things they wouldn’t normally touch. That was my idea behind the green pepper, and although Lily didn’t like the fact it felt cold at first. She happily felt around it, and continued to do so after she had guessed it.

So why not try it yourself? Also if you have any good ideas for fun things to use for the game. Then please them in the comments below, as I think we could be playing this a lot over the next week.

Dad Does Autism

Top 5 board games to play with young kids

Top 5 board games to play with young kids

As the title says, today we are looking at board games. As chosen by Lily, her top 5 board games to play with young kids. Jack and Lily are 12 and 8, both being autistic what they like is some areas can be younger than their age. This is one of those areas, so we are looking at this from a younger child’s perspective. Lily really enjoys board games, and we’ve been playing quite a lot during this lockdown. Sometimes Jack will play as well depending on the game.

Lily picked the 5 games, we played them and each gave them a score out of 5. I will do a quick review with each game too, and leave a link to where you can buy each game from amazon. These are affiliate links and I will get a small commission if anyone does make a purchase using the links. That will help me with the upkeep of the website, for more information, you can go to my Donations & Adverts page by clicking this link. So let’s get started on our list of top 5 board games to play with young kids.

Kerplunk

Top 5 board games to play with young kids Kerplunk Lily

The aim of the game is to take the straws out one at a time, and try not to make any of the marbles drop down. The person with the least amount of marbles at the end wins. Setting up is as much of an event as playing the game itself, especially if you are all trying to put the straws through at the same time. It’s a good idea to make the set up fun, you have to do it at the end of every round, and can become tedious otherwise.

Once you are ready to go, I really like Kerplunk. The tension and anxiety rises every time you take another straw. I mostly enjoy the reaction of the kids when the marbles drop, especially if a lot go at once. They laugh every time, especially if it’s on my turn. We normally play 5 or 6 games, if all 4 of us are playing maybe a few more.

Top 5 games to play with young children - Kerplunk

Rating – Dad (4) Lily (5) Click here to buy Kerplunk

Jenga

Top 5 board games to play with young kids - jenga tower

The aim of the game is simple. Build a tower of 3 blocks in a row, then take it in turn to take one block out. If you knock the tower over during your turn you lose. I do enjoy jenga, but I find setting it up a bit of a pain. It comes with a cardboard sleeve, the theory is you pull it out of the box, and the tower sets straight up when you slide the sleeve away. That has never worked once for us.

When the game starts it’s pretty fun, you get the same tension as Kerplunk. You need more skill for this game, as one wrong move and it’s game over. You need a steady hand, which is bad news for me. When I inevitably end up knocking the tower over, the kids are laughing at my misfortune again. Another fun game, but the setting up loses it points from me.

Collapsed jenga tower

Rating – Dad (3) Lily (5) Click here to buy Jenga

LOL surprise Monopoly


A classic game, we have the LOL surprise version. Admittedly I’d probably enjoy it more if it was the original, or less of a “girly version”. But it was a present for Lily and she loves it. It does mean Jack has absolutely no interest in playing it. If you’ve got a lot of time to kill, then this is the game to play. Playing until everyone goes bankrupt and there’s one player left, must be a marathon. I don’t think I’ve ever done that ever, we normally declare a winner when someone is clearly leading and everyone’s got bored.

Top 5 board games to play with young kids

This isn’t a very competitive game in our house. Lily gets upset if you buy any of her favourite cards, which seems to be most of them. We tend too just play until Lily gets bored, and we declare her the winner. For those reasons, this is my least favourite of the 5 games, but Lily absolutely loves it.

Rating – Dad (3) Lily (5) Click here to buy LOL monopoly

Hungry Hippos

You have to connect the hippos to the game board every time you play, assuming you disconnect them and put them back in the box when you finish playing. I find the hippos quite stuff to put on, the kids certainly aren’t able to do it, which is a downside. Once it’s ready, it’s an easy and fun game to play.

Top 5 board games to play with young kids - hungry hippos

You can play with 2 people, though I think it’s best if you have 4, one person for each hippo. The aim of the game is to swallow as many of the little balls as you can, with your hippo. The person with the most balls at the end, wins the game. If you are anything like us, things are likely to get a bit manic. It’s no holds barred, and the more aggressive the game gets the funnier Jack and Lily think it is. They absolutely love it, we can play up 10 times, before hands start to hurt from hitting the plastic levers, and we stop.

Rating – Dad (4) Lily (4) click here to buy hungry hippos

Don’t take Busters Bones

don’t take busters bones

To start you need to connect the dog to the tray section, and then push it back to set it. It’s not to difficult, the kids struggle with it but can do it without my help. To play you take turns picking a card, that has a number of bones that you have to pick up out of the tray. You have a pair of cat paw tweezers to pick the bones up, this is to keep hands out of the try. As the dog lurches foward, as if to bite, when you set him off. If he bites on your turn you lose the game.

Whilst Buster is sleeping, an audio of snoring plays through some speakers. Which is a great little touch that definitely adds to the experience of the game. It’s another game of tension, and waiting for “something bad” to happen. Im guessing by now you’ve worked out these are the type games we like to play. This one is my personal favourite.

Rating – Dad (5) Lily (4) Click here to buy Dont take busters bones

Conclusion

To conclude our top 5 board games to play with young kids list, a look at the combined rating from both myself and Lily, Kerplunk and Don’t take Busters bones get the joint highest score with 9. Which is pretty much what I expected, I think these 2 are a little bit better than the other 2. Have you played any of these game? What are your thoughts on them? Also, are there any board games you would recommend us to try? If so leave a comment below, thanks.

Dad Does Autism

Lily’s Flower basket

Lily’s Flower basket

After some lovely weather recently I think someone has turned the heating off. It’s turned a bit chilly here, but in the spirit of spring today I want to show you Lily’s flower basket. We got a nice basket and filled it with soil, and bought some nice flowers to add it. I’m no expert when it comes to flowers, so we just picked some pansies and violas that looked like they went well together.


Lily arranged the flowers herself and planted them. I think it they look really good, but you be the judge. What do you think to Lily’s flower basket?

Lily’s flower basket - front
front
Lily’s flower basket - back
back

What else have we been up to?

Despite the drop in temperature, Jack has wanted to go on his walks to catch Pokémon on PokemonGo. I shared a few photos on the Twitter page, where you can find me @DadDoesAutism. As more often than not I use photos of Jack and Lily, they decided it should be my turn this time. So here’s a photo of me with a Pokemon.

Dad and Aipom

Myself and Jack have both had our lockdown haircut, thanks to Natalie. Who did a pretty good job. I’m not sharing any photos here, as Natalie is looking at writing a post about how she went about cutting Jack’s hair.

Haircuts can be a problem with some autistic children, it certainly was for Jack for a long time. We found a hairdresser that Jack is happy with, accepts going to now. With lockdown though, it’s obviously not open right now, and Jack was complaining his hair was too long. We were unsure if he’d allow his mum to do it, but we got it done and it will certainly be a good post when Natalie does it.

Finally, as I’ve mentioned a couple of times on here, and even shared a video on twitter. I have been playing cricket in the garden with Lily. She didn’t really know what she was doing when lockdown began, other than trying to hit the ball. I would do a gentle under arm throw, and she’d struggle to hit it.

Fast forward to now, and although we are only playing with a lightweight plastic bat and ball. I am now doing proper cricket bowls for her to hit. I’m really pleased with how she’s wanted to keep practicing, and the progress she’s made. More importantly she’s really happy with herself.

Have you or your kids been trying to get better and something new? We’d love to hear what you’ve been trying to learn. Leave your comments in the box below. Thanks.

Dad Does Autism

Autism and Minecraft

Autism and Minecraft

The first time I ever heard of Minecraft was when Jack asked to have the game. I had no idea of the strong links between autism and minecraft. A quick google of autism and Minecraft will bring up lots of results. It seems to be something that attracts some autistic people, and as is often the case. Once it becomes a special interest, it becomes an obsession.

Minecraft is even being used in therapies, to help autistic children learn things like social skills. You can apply for a specialised server for autistic people, called AutCraft, which is said to be a safe haven for autistic children to play Minecraft. Jack just plays on Minecraft normally, and it’s for fun.

The joy of building something

When you successfully build something, it gives you such a great feeling. No matter what it is, big or small, you still get that feeling of achievement. I talked about how Lego provides that for Jack in “Is Lego good for autistic children”, click the link if you haven’t read that post before.

Of course with Lego you are restricted to what you can make. In the computerised world of Minecraft the possibilities are practically endless. You can go wherever your imagination takes you. 

Using Minecraft to express feelings

The other day Jack was very excited to show me a laboratory he made. He then told me he had the coronavirus inside it and was working on a cure.

on top of the coronavirus lab

I actually felt quite emotional and proud that he was thinking of doing that. He has found it difficult to understand, what is going on in the world right now. Trying to express his own feelings on the matter, hasn’t been easy either.  We have spent a lot of time of time, trying to learnt what Jack is trying to say to us, when he is unable to do it directly.

This was Jacks way of showing us he is worried about the coronavirus, and wants there to be a cure found. So that everything can go back to normal. When he does something like this, it gives us the opportunity to ask questions about a subject he doesn’t like to talk about. 

He won’t communicate about a subject he is anxious about, and if you try and force the issue he’s even less likely to talk. This was showing us he was ready to talk about the coronavirus. Only a few questions, with short answers and nods of the head. But enough for us to get an understand of how anxious and worried he is feeling, and now he knows we know.

Jack’s favourite builds

That was an example of how autism and Minecraft work, to help an autistic child communicate with his parents. Let’s finish with something more fun. I’ve asked Jack to share with you, the favourite things he has built on Minecraft.

Some of the favourite things he has built include, Freddy Fazbears Pizzeria, a nether portal, and the Kanto region in Pokemon.

His absolute favourite is the SCP 250 foundation facility. Don’t worry if you don’t know what that means, I don’t really either. Here is a brief explanation of what SCP is.


You can click here if you want to find out more about it. There’s a couple of pictures below to showing the facility that Jack has made.

Minecraft & autism
Full facility

an SCP in its containment pod

There have been a lot of posts involving Lily recently, so it was fun for me to get Jack involved again. For those of you out there who’s kids like playing on Minecraft, or even you yourself. What do you enjoy building on there. We’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment below.

Dad Does Autism