If your child eats nothing but applesauce and yogurt, she may have more of an issue with texture than with the way food tastes. It’s common for children with autism to be resistant to trying new textures, but any child can go through a picky phase. Rather than getting frustrated and turning mealtime into a battle, keep your cool and keep trying new foods so you can ensure that your child is eating a balanced and healthy diet.
Give the child toys to chew on. Children who are preschool age or younger will enjoy using these toys, which are made of a rubber-like substance, and they help get the child used to texture. Buy a toy online from a store that sells sensory processing equipment for children and let your child chew on it throughout the day.
Buy her an electric toothbrush. Feeling vibration in her mouth when she brushes her teeth can help her get used to feeling different sensations in her mouth. Let her pick out the toothbrush she wants and a new tube of flavored toothpaste to make it seem like a treat.
Serve food at a temperature she likes. Temperature is like another kind of texture, so if she doesn’t like food that’s very hot or very cold, she may not eat her meal. Let dishes come to room temperature before serving them.
Let her eat with her hands. The texture of a fork or spoon may be bothering her, and using her fingers will help make her more comfortable.
Introduce new textures gradually. Serve foods that have similar textures to the ones she likes. If she likes soft mashed potatoes, serve her mashed potatoes with a few potato chunks one day. Serve a smoothie that includes a few chunks of fruit the next night and a bowl of soup with chunks of vegetables the next night. Add more and more new textures each day.
Praise her each time she tries something new. Tell her you’re proud when she eats even a single bite of a new texture.
Give her space. Let her take her time and stay at the table after everyone else is finished eating if necessary. She may be more willing to try something new without the pressure of others watching her eat.