Thursday, December 19, 2013

Tool Use (Life with #Autism)

So it only took who knows how many battles, but I finally have started seeing some success with getting Ben to try new foods and more importantly, use a utensil.

There's lots of good foods, but if it doesn't look recognizable to Ben, he won't eat it. Never mind if it's awesome like pizza or ice cream.

But recently we've been trying to get him to eat eggs. He will sometimes eat eggs, but we've been trying to get him to eat them with a fork because it's less messy. But he won't take the fork, he fights, resists, won't open his mouth. Even with the offer of bacon (BACON!) he won't do it.

The other night after everyone else left the kitchen, I finally got him to start eating egg. I thought it was the reduction in the number of people in the room. A few nights later, I was in the middle of fighting with him and I had a realization about what really probably was a working factor.

We've had a little success with the spoon - he will feed himself peanut butter or applesauce -- though since he holds the spoon upside-down often, that can be messy.

The other night, I had moved the egg to a small plastic container to make it easier for me. But I had a new working theory in the middle of the battle - perhaps it was the container. So I tried again - I scooped up all the eggs into a plastic container and set it on the table. Suddenly, he was willing to take the fork and eat the egg, then hand it back to me or eventually he even started spearing pieces of egg himself.

I realized it might be the container. It was the same one he was already willing to eat peanut butter from and it was similar to the one that the applesauce was usually in. The first night I had been so impressed with his eating that I went a step further - after he ate all the eggs (not just the portion Lori had set out, but also all the rest she had cooked), I put ice cream in the bowl while he watched and I got out a spoon. I scooped out a spoonful, turned the spoon to him and he opened right up. The cold was a surprise to him, but he quickly indicated that he liked it and wanted more, eventually spooning it out for himself.

So my theory is that the cup was something he was already familiar with and it provided visibility into what was available to him (we've also observed that he seems to prefer bowls and plates without patterns or cartoons on them) and he was more willing to try.

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