When Augustus was born, he was born hungry and ready to eat; and eat he did. He has always been a big eater, and a big kid. In fact, per his measurements a few weeks ago, he could actually pass as a 4-year-old per his weight and height. He seems to always be hungry and always game for a snack or meal. In the beginning, he would eat just about anything and was less picky than his older sister. Throw anything at him, he’d eat it.

Eventually, he became more selective about his foods, as any kid does. This has progressed into him being very selective about what he wants. The part that makes this so hard is that he cannot tell us what he would prefer or what he wants, but can refuse or protest to things he doesn’t want. We do try with pictures and PECS, but we aren’t very advanced in that yet. Like I said, Gus seems to always be hungry. He’s a growing boy. How do I know when he’s hungry? He starts wandering around the kitchen fussing and whining and looking around for something he wants. I try to show him his pictures to get him to indicate what he would like, but he rarely has patience for this. Therefore, we begin the guessing game! I offer and he refuses or accepts. If he refuses he pushes (or throws) what I offer him away and says “Doe!” Or “No!” If he accepts he just takes what is offered and runs. As most 2-year-olds, he has very little patience. When I finally offer a food he will accept, if there is any preparation or cooktime involved, he pushes in front of me whining and reaching while I’m attempting to prepare his snack or meal, and will sometimes even push me. He’s a big kid, so I get a workout in. It is very stressful; kind of like Hell’s Kitchen, but without actual words, having someone yelling and screaming at you while you’re trying to prepare their food.

He goes through cycles where he has “preferred foods”. The longest lasting cycle was bread, buns, and things like that. He was always happy with bread and refused most other things. Unfortunately, this phase of the cycle ended and we had to figure out other “preferred foods”. Next was fruit, especially bananas. This phase in the cycle didn’t last as long as bread. If we’d have let him he would have ate nothing but bananas. He was crazy about bananas! Then today he decided bananas are no longer a “preferred food”.

Here’s the thing…children with autism spectrum disorder and/or sensory processing disorder tend to have eating and feeding difficulties. They tend to get fixated on a food and refuse to eat anything else and then finally get sick of the food they’ve been fixated on and start a new one. You have to understand, new foods in general are hard to introduce, as Gus has issues with texture, taste, smell, color, and so on. There is seriously a super long mapped out process for introducing new foods. You start with them even accepting the new food on the plate to actually touching it and work your way up from there. I had no idea it could be such a process. If there is something not preferred on Gus’ plate he tends to throw that food on the ground or just flip his entire plate or bowl.

Gus also struggles some with the mechanics of chewing, sitting at the table, and with the motor skills involved in feeding himself and using utensils. We have to hold utensils in his hand and use our hand to guide his hand to the food and then to his mouth. It’s not easy because he knows just using his hands is faster and more efficient, and that he gets to feel the texture if he uses his hands. He also lacks the coordination required to use an open cup, and with his sensory issues would prefer to stick his hand right in the liquid before he tries it. He also likes to squeeze and study the texture of his foods, and will even take a bite and get the feel in his mouth and then take that bite out to visually study it. (All very messy.)

To address all of this, Gus is doing some feeding therapy at LifeScape once weekly. His chewing has improved and he has been better about taking bites rather than stuffing his mouth full. I can also get him to sit at the table and finish a meal on rare occasions, which is better than never.

We also have to worry about his nutrient intake. Since he has preferred grains and now fruits, we struggle to get him the protein he needs for growth and to keep him full. We got him to a point where he would accept peanutbutter, so we have been trying to incorporate that into his diet in different ways (on fruit etc.) so he’s getting that protein. Granted, he refused it yesterday.

This is not a situation where we have a picky eater and it’s a battle of wills. We can’t use the “Eat what I make or go hungry!” It is his body literally adversely reacting to certain foods for any number of reasons; texture, consistency, smell, color, etc. I think if Gus had his way he’d love to go back to eating any and everything. He loves to eat.

So, everyday, several times a day, we deal with the frustration on our part and on his part. Eating isn’t just eating around here; it’s a process and an adventure.

Right now, our saving grace is chicken nuggets. We have found a brand and way to cook them that he likes. Therefore, he is getting protein! We try to be careful not to burn him out on his favorite, but the kids gotta eat and if his preferred food is all he will eat, that’s what he gets.

He is also sometimes particular about how his food is served. He used to love macaroni n’ cheese and would eat a big bowlful of it. Now, he refuses to use a bowl and only wants a bite at a time in front of him or he will flip his bowl or plate and refuse to eat it at all.

Anyway, now you know all about what my kid eats, ha. I bet you were dying to know.

This is just another piece in the autism puzzle I thought I’d share. I don’t know if it is something that will ever go away, but there are parts that can be improved upon.

Gus is doing well. He is getting much better with eye contact and focusing for longer periods of time. He still isn’t using words much, but is understanding more all the time.

We are now also diving headfirst into the lovely sleeping issues that come with his diagnoses, but that can wait for another post.

– AMomsFaithUnbroken

Big Eater to Big but Selective Eater

Today I was hit right square in the “feels”. My phone greeted me this morning with my Facebook Memories, which are a recap of things you’ve shared on Facebook in years passed.

One year ago, I shared a picture and an update about Augustus, who had just turned 18 months old.

The caption to this picture read:

This guy is 18-months-old today! 😲 Can you believe it!? I can’t. 😒 He is a boy of few words, which I think is largely in part to the fact that his older sister never stops talking. πŸ˜„ He is always on the move.πŸƒβ€β™‚οΈ Even when he watches tv, he walks around. He loves to crawl up onto things and climb. πŸ˜“ He has grown 3 INCHES in the last 6 months, and is very close to being off the charts for his height. His height to weight ratio is perfect. So, in other words, he’s a big ol’ healthy boy! πŸ’ͺ He’s still a big eater and isn’t too picky. πŸ— He adores books and asks to be read to often. πŸ“— He also likes to sit by himself and look at books. He’s really into throwing and rolling balls around.⚾️ He loves anything with wheels. 🏍 He has a little camoflauge blankie with a stuffed animal deer head on it that is his absolute goto for comfort. ☺ He has to have it to sleep. 😴 He’s big on sleep. He gets a little fussy and wants to go to bed or take a nap and is all for it. πŸ‘ He still likes to wrestle and often uses his head as a weapon. 😏 His sister likes to boss him around and even push him around. 😣 He’s such a lover, though. He usually doesn’t fight back. He loves to give hugs and kisses, and loves to rest his head against mine for some snuggles. He is the sweetest. πŸ˜πŸ’™

Sweet, huh?

Then, in the comments, I elaborated on some details my friends had inquired about:

At this time we were starting to come to terms that maybe something was going on with Gus, but just weren’t sure, and not yet willing to admit it.

I could take the caption to that adorable picture and pick it apart, piece by piece, and show you that what I was describing, although very vaguely and unaware, were some of the symptoms of autism spectrum disorder and sensory processing disorder.

Autism taketh away…

Notice in the comments I mentioned the words he was using? Although they were few, he was using words; for a while. They eventually went away.

That’s what really hit me. It hit me that I’m not even sure I remember what that sweet little voice sounded like, because I never thought it would go away. We all take so many things for granted, such as the voices of our loved ones. I was fortunate enough to hear him say “mama”, which is more than some can say, and I am blessed in that.

That’s what autism has taken away. It took away my son’s voice; his ability to communicate verbally. What I wouldn’t give to hear him say “I love you.” I’d even love to hear him argue with his sister.

While he still makes noises and sounds, he does not speak. Maybe he will again one day, but maybe he wont.

Autism took away the future I saw for my son and my family.

Autism took the wind out of my sails (initially).

Autism rules my schedule and routines.

Autism filled me with doubt and changed the way I see almost everything.

Autism requires my son, my baby, to work so much harder than most to be socially accepted and understood and to learn. He learns differently.

He is different not less!

Autism giveth…

Autism has given me absolute proof that love requires no words. None. That in itself is probably worth more than everything it has taken away.

Autism has given me a new outlook on life and a new way to view things.

Autism has broadened my horizons and introduced me to things and people I would have likely never come across otherwise.

I’ve got some hella wind in my sails now! It took it away, but sent it back with a vengeance.

Autism has given me understanding.

Autism has given me an understanding that words are not needed to communicate.

Autism has given me strength; so much strength.

Autism has renewed my faith and renewed my trust in God.

Autism has given me an entirely unique, loving, affectionate, smiley, and happy son to fulfill my life; my family’s lives.

God has entrusted me with what is perfect and planned for me.

I always wanted to be a mother. That’s all I ever knew. When it became obvious that may never happen I turned to fertility treatments and had my beautiful daughter. Then God, in his own timing, blessed our family with this amazing and unique little boy who would bring us all together and build us all up in strength, understanding, and love, and show me a side of motherhood many don’t see.

Both of my children are perfect for me and to me.

Autism: It Giveth and It Taketh Away

– AMomsFaithUnbroken

Autism: It Giveth and It Taketh Away

Welcome to PECS (video)

For now, we will show Augustus the picture related to the activity we will be doing to help him learn which pictures are associated with which activity. We will also give him choices at snacktime, with activities, for TV shows, etc., letting him choose between a few pictures in the given category. We also plan to implement “first and then” showing him what we will be doing and what will come after to help him with transitioning from one activity to another. When Augustus gets a little better with his motor skills and gets this whole PECS thing figured out, we hope he will eventually be able to hand us pictures to let us know his wants and needs. Then, for on the go, maybe we will be able to incorporate the use of PECS on an electronic device such as a tablet. He has done pretty well showing me what he wants for a snack when he gets hungry and frustrated and I show him his snack pictures. Hopefully, his frustration in general will decrease overall once he knows he can get what he wants and communicate with us via pictures. It’s all a work in progress.

-AMomsFaithUnbroken

(He also has some pictures in his bedroom that aren’t in the video. We will add more pictures and options as necessary.)