Q: Dear Bryn,
How would you approach a child with Asperger’s Syndrome, who for the last six years has virtually lived on six pints of milk a day? He does not and will not sit with the family for a meal and at six years old is still spoon fed his breakfast. If we did not do this, he would not eat anything.
At school he refuses school meals, will not eat packed lunch, (and has even on occasions been caught throwing food away). I am baffled by this and desperate to find a solution to this potentially life threatening problem, that is connected to Asperger’s Syndrome. I have been through all the normal channels of professional help, but have reached the end of the line. If you can offer any support or advice, I am willing to listen and try.
A: Dear James,
Thank you for sharing your question and concern, I will do my best to give you information that may be helpful to you and your son.
What you are describing is actually not as unusual as you may think. Many, many children who are on the autistic spectrum have unusual eating habits, oftentimes, similar to what you are describing. I have had parents talk to me about their child only eating potatoes for three years, or a certain cookie etc.
My suggestion would be to pursue the avenue of food allergies. The behavior you are describing sounds very consistent with an allergy to Casein (a substance found in dairy products). Oftentimes, children (and adults) crave the very thing that they are allergic to. We have seen children, again and again, who, when allergy tested, are allergic to the very limited food that they will eat. There are numerous studies that have been published, over the last 2 years, which discuss the possible relationship between the unusual behaviors of children on the autism spectrum and allergies to Casein and Gluten (found in wheat products). I would recommend that you read the book, “Biological Treatments for Autism and PDD”, written by Dr. William Shaw. This book is very helpful in not only educating the reader in these matters, but also helping you to know where to go for testing, information etc. You could also use the internet to research these two areas of possible allergy.
One additional thought as you continue: I have noticed, over the last seventeen years of working with children with special needs, that oftentimes we who care for children are part of the reason that certain behaviors continue. You could explore certain questions for yourself such as:
Exploring these questions might help you to become aware of any “attitudinal glitches” or areas where you feel stressed or ill at ease. By removing your stress or tension, you could become even more powerful in helping him to eat more varied food. Please do consider reading: Happiness Is A Choice , by Barry Neil Kaufman, as this book can really help you to work on your attitude, if this is of interest to you. In addition, the book, Son-Rise: The Miracle Continues, (same author), might tell you more about our Son-Rise Program, here at The Option Institute. Also, please do feel free to contact us for a free initial call where perhaps we could help you to decide if our programs could be of support to you and your son.
I hope this helpful for you.
With warm regards,
Bryn N. Hogan