Triumphs with an autistic kid can be sparse a hard-won when they happen. Then, every once in a while, it’s like a switch just clicks over and something miraculous happens. One of Bean’s biggest issues is food. He eats smooth peanut butter and non-bumpy jam on one of three things: toast, english muffins or Ritz crackers. That’s it. Breakfast. Lunch. Dinner. Every single day. For the last, oh… five years? Yeah, that’s about right.
But lately, he’s been edging outward, tentatively- and if I look at him or notice, he runs back to the peanut butter. But he’s eating vanilla yogurt. And bananas- sometimes. This morning, he saw Abby eating a bowl of Cheerios, and then he stood in the middle of the kitchen for a few minutes watching her with open disgust. He hates messes and never gets anything on his face- except lately. Yesterday he ate a fudgecicle, and he had chocolate around his mouth- I let it ride for hours because it NEVER happens. When he finally glimpsed himself in the bathroom mirror, he freaked- but it’s still progress, because it means his food touched him and he didn’t notice. See? Small victories.
So this morning, as he watched Abby get milk on her chin and spill little o’s on the table, I was shocked when he said “Mom! (it’s always an exclamation from him) I want a bowl of Cheerios!” I look at him sideways, not wanting to cause the peanut-butter retreat. “Okay, Bean. Let’s get a bowl for you.” I pour the o’s in a bowl, not making a big deal AT ALL about WHAT A BIG DEAL THIS IS- because that’s what you have to do. Pretend a child who’s eaten the same thing for 5 years asking for a bowl of Cheerios is normal! “Do you want them dry or with milk?” He opts for milk, but wants to pour it himself. This sometimes happens- he sees a food that looks like a fun process, then once the process is done, he won’t go within 5 feet. I am expecting this with the Cheerios. He pours the milk, and I return to my homework- but not really- I’m watching him covertly over the top of my computer.
HE ATE THE WHOLE BOWL.
Only the mother of another ASD child with food issues will understand that I want to SHOUT this from the rooftops! Now, will he do it again? Or was this a fluke? That’s the million dollar question. Welcome to life with autism.