One of the most difficult parts about being a mum for me has to have been the whole 'feeding them' malarkey. Guilt is a major part of lots of mums' lives for many reasons I'm sure, but for me food has been the biggest bugbear. Funny to note again how different our two girls are - Tamsin has never particularly liked food (apart from originally chocolate and now sweeties) and could quite happily eat next to nothing and NEVER be hungry. Sasha on the other hand, eats constantly, and I'm sure if it wasn't for her autism she would have literally eaten anything and enjoyed it. The autism stops her because of her fear of anything unusual and not routine.
You would not believe how much I celebrated the other day when she ate a cheese and ham toastie! No idea why it worked that particular day, but I just decided to put one down near her and she almost ate it by mistake whilst paying attention to something else (TV, ipad, her sister?!). Have I managed to get her to eat one again? No, of course not, she doesn't really remember eating and enjoying the last one! So it's back to square one, trying to 'surreptitously' put food down that she might try - but only while she is in the right mood. It's a tricky old game this, not tipping her over the edge, one I've certainly got used to but am very aware others don't understand the rules of (how could they? They change daily!!).
Again, unlike Tamsin, (who has always hated breakfast (along with most other foods) with a passion and has very graciously agreed to eat just one scotch pancake with choc spread on a daily basis to please us), Sasha has eaten Weetabix most mornings thankfully - sometimes 2 whole ones! However lately she has switched to wanting her favourite snack first ('little sausage') before the weetabix, and the last few days she has got very upset about her weetabix not being quite right in the bowl. Of course she can't explain properly what's wrong, saying something along the lines of 'it's broken' after she has mushed it up which is what she usually does?!), but it does really upset her. I have to guess it's not enough or too much milk but can't be sure. However if I take her another one in she seems to then eat it OK. I'm really hoping this is a passing phase - weetabix is definitely the best thing she eats and most likely keeps her 'regular'. A very common side effect of autism is bowel problems, which we have so far avoided thankfully.
We struggled to feed Tamsin anything for the first 4 years of her life, but at some point over the last year she did manage to grow out of that, and although I would hardly ever call mealtimes enjoyable, we do now get her sitting at the table and sometimes trying new things (although 'yuk!' does seem to be her favourite word...). We managed this largely because we were able to reward/incentivise/bribe/encourage Tamsin to eat -and this is where the biggest difficulty lies with Sasha. That's just not an option as everything is done on her terms. Having said that, I did have a good day when I was feeling particularly strong a week or so ago, and I refused Sasha the chocolate egg she wanted until she had had a spoonful of the scrambled egg on her tea plate (something she used to eat happily but decided to stop liking months ago). Well the screams and tantrum lasted a good 45 minutes, right up until almost bedtime, when all of a sudden she switched them off, went and ate the spoonful and then demanded her reward. I was relieved - at least she had understood me!! So why not do it every day, starve her until she eats decent food, I can hear you asking? Well it worked that one day, but hasn't other times, and believe me it just makes for a miserable life/day those times when she won't back down. If one thing isn't right, nothing is right. Food and water keeps her going and keeps me sane!
Must dash off for 'no likey no lighty' but note to self: will write about 'I love you' in my next post.