Rethinking Autism and “Picky Eating”

Published by: Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism
Written by: “Seeking Sara”

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been ashamed of what I do and don’t eat. The stigma of being a “picky eater” has followed me my whole life, bringing comments (and no small amount of exasperation) from family, friends, wait staff, and strangers.

I’ve recently been examining why I struggle with certain foods, and have come to the same conclusion as I have with much of my post-autism-diagnosis self-exploration: I’m actually incredibly strong, and my experiences are real and valid.

Why am I so “picky”? Well, if you could experience my senses for a few hours, I bet you’d be more understanding, less judgmental, and I’m fairly certain you’d stop using the word “picky” pretty quickly.

Often times, I want desperately to like a food, to be able to order anything at random, or to just eat whatever is put in front of me without hesitation. But for me, food is almost always a relentlessly overpowering experience. Click here to read the rest of the story.

RESOURCES

4 techniques for picky eaters with autism

8 secret strategies for sensory issues with food

Autism and food issues

Encouraging picky eaters to try new food

How to help your child with autism overcome picky eating

Mealtime and children on the autism spectrum: Beyond picky, fussy, and fads

Picky vs. problem eater: A closer look at sensory processing disorder

The picky eater

When your child with autism is a picky eater

Why children with autism struggle with eating

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27 Facts On Stimming You Should Know

  1. “Stimming” is short for self-stimulatory behavior. (or stereotypical).
  2. It is common among people with developmental disabilities such as intellectual disabilities and Fragile X Syndrome.
  3. It is also prevalent among people on the autism spectrum.
  4. In fact in many cases, it is part of the diagnosis due to the repetition of stimming.
  5. Stimming is often used as a means to self-regulate, self-calm and for self-expression.
  6. The movements are repetitive and are used to self-stimulate the 7 senses.
  7. It is often described as a repetitive motor behavior that can disrupt academic and social and other activities.
  8. One of the theories behind stimming is that beta-endorphrins are released in the brain casuing an euphoric feeling which is generally a response to pain.
  9. Stimming behavior. based for self-soothing and to help a child or an adult regain emotional balance.
  10. Sensory Overload. Too much sensory information can lead to stress, anxiety and eventually a meltdown.
  11. It is observed in 10% of non-autistic children.
  12. common forms of stimming include spinning, hand-flapping and body rocking
  13. Benefits of stimming include the increased ability to remain calm, reduce meltdowns, and increased focus and time management skills.
  14. Love ones and society may consider stimming socially inappropriate
  15. Autistic people should be allowed to stim as much as needed
  16. Autistic people may bebefit from stress balls, fidget toys, and chewy jewelry.
  17. Stimming helps to relieve anxiety.
  18. Most people in the autistic community oppose attempts to reduce or eliminate stimming
  19. This is due to understanding that stimming is an important tool for self-regulation.
  20. Stimming can help block out excess sensory input
  21. Stimming helps provide extra sensory when needed
  22. repeated banging of the head actually reduces the overall sensation of pain.
  23. Visual. Repetitive movements such as fluorescent lights which tend to flicker.
  24. Smell (Olfactory) Includes repetitive behavior in licking, tasting objects,
  25. Tactile. Skin-rubbing, hand movement, and repeatedly grind teeth
  26. Vestibular. Moving body, rocking back to front, spinning, jumping and pacing.
  27. Vigorous exercise reduces the need to stim.

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Reference

Autism Asperger’s Digest

Child Mind Institute

Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, (2013). APA 5th Edition

Science Daily