My son is a strange mixture when I comes to trying new things.
What happens with children with autism?
In general, children with autism stick to the things that they like and the things that comfort them. This is, of course, true for all children, but especially for children with autism.
This often leads to the refusal of trying new things. Once a food or an activity or a comfort toy is a part of the child’s life, changing is very hard.
What about my son?
I have realized for years that my son fights me when it comes to trying new foods. It’s a fight to even get one tidbit of something new into him.
If I do manage to break that refusal barrier, I have seen him almost gag on the food. But, I’ve also seen him eat it and do just fine.
Usually, that one taste is all I’ll get. He’ll never return to that food.
Maybe because it was forced on him, or maybe he just doesn’t like it (whatever it is).
When it comes to food, my son has been like that for a long time. (Exceptions are there was a time when we got him to try pizza, chocolate milk, and chocolate ice cream and he liked them—and eats all three of those items in abundance to this day! So, I have logged some successes!)
On the other hand, I know a boy (also on the spectrum) who will eat whatever is put in front of him. It’s really pretty amazing for a kid on the autism spectrum, but I’ve seen it happen!
And, I’ve pointed it out to my son. “Look, ______ will try to new foods.” (My son, the teenager, gets upset with me when I try this. I don’t really blame him for it, though.)
What else about trying new things?
It occurred to me last week that, in other ways, my son actually willingly tries new things.
My friend and I took our boys (both of them are on the spectrum) to Universal. Our goal was to check out the new Harry Potter part of the park. (I had visited it a few months earlier, but it was the first time for the other three.)
I am not a ride person.
My son, however, likes a lot of rides. He knows the ones he likes, and has no hesitation in wanted to ride them. At Universal, he knows that he likes the Transformers ride, Simpsons ride, and the Despicable Me ride (we’ve been to Universal many times).
During this visit, my son definitely wanted to try the Harry Potter ride. I didn’t, because I had tried it in August (one of the rare times I’ve gone on rides) and absolutely hated it. (Alas, I don’t like rides.)
Still, I knew my son wanted to try it, and I know he likes rides, so I didn’t think there’d be a problem.
So, what happened?
He tried it with my friend and her son.
They wanted to go on it again, but my son didn’t.
He seemed a little “off” after the ride, and he later explained to me what had happened to him.
He said he definitely wanted to try the ride. One time. And, then he didn’t like it.
It turned out there was a part of the ride that had really bothered him (it’s the part where the ride stops suddenly and jerks up or down).
Now, there’s another ride at Universal—it’s called the Mummy—that my son refuses to even try. Apparently, he had heard that it’s also a “jerky” ride, and one that is inside a dark tunnel.
My friend tried to get him to go with her and her son, but my son wouldn’t go.
So, at least with my son, it’s hit or miss with trying new things.
Food is a challenge. Rides are a bit better, but once he gets something into his head, it’s there and he’s not going to change. Or, he’ll try it once, and that’s it.
He said he was happy that he tried the Harry Potter ride, and that was enough for him.
Good for him.
I felt that was a challenge accepted and conquered.
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