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Please help me work through this, I think it's my problem, not DD's

(9 Posts)
Melawati Wed 17-Aug-16 18:23:21

DD has complex MH difficulties, ASD and ADHD. She's always had issues around food - not really sensory issues around taste and texture but with the social aspects of eating and control of food, mealtimes etc. We've been seeing a specialist dietician, who has suggested we trial giving DD complete control over her food and allowing her to eat separately.
It's just been a couple of days and it seems to be going well for DD but I hate it. I grew up with family meals around the table, and this is how we used to eat (with increasing difficult to manage behaviour from DD). We're now having family meals with our other DC, while DD is busy reading and then she eats later.
I feel so torn. I think she's happier like this, and it certainly makes a much pleasanter meal for everyone else. But I feel like we're excluding her (although of course she could come and join us if she wanted to) and that she's not part of the family any more.
If it's helping DD, why can't I be happy about it?

PolterGoose Wed 17-Aug-16 20:00:00

Is she happier eating separately? Yes?
Is everyone else enjoying mealtimes more? Yes?

I think you just have to accept it. Autism means doing things differently. It's fine. You are meeting her needs and being a decent parent by doing that. I think a lot of problems arise because of inflexibility and almost fear of doing things differently. It's how it's always been is a crap reason for doing anything.

Fairylea Wed 17-Aug-16 20:38:45

I agree with Polter. It is difficult to let go of what are social norms to you but autism has no social norms!

My son is 4 and has asd and never eats with us for dinner. We never eat at a table anymore and he eats most happily sat on the sofa in front of the tv eating with his fingers. He can't manage cutlery due to motor skills issues. He doesn't care whether we are eating or not, it's not socially motivating to him and he doesn't like to talk at mealtimes anyway - he finds it stressful and will eat less. He has a very restrictive diet anyway (mainly pasta, bread and cheese) and is under a dietician and we were told to do whatever makes our lives easier to encourage him to eat.. So this is it!

At lunch I will sit next to him and eat as well but for dinner he eats his and I just sit alongisde him and then I make a main meal for dh, dd and I later when he's gone to bed. He wouldn't eat what we eat anyway. He only ever eats pasta for dinner- with cheese or pesto. That's it!

Ineedmorepatience Wed 17-Aug-16 22:05:57

It is sometimes hard to let go of our own expectations but your Dd is a person in her own right and eating with you all is not working for her. She needs calories to survive she doesnt need to sit at the table and struggle.

For what its worth, the sound of other people eating makes me feel ill sometimes. We have a mixture of family meals and tray and sofa meals. We have found a balance most of the time that works for us.

Be kind to yourself and give it time to become your new normal 💐

Melawati Wed 17-Aug-16 23:22:52

Thanks all for your sane words. I know it's the right thing for DD, but it literally breaks my heart. I feel like she's been cast out of the family (ridiculous I know) and I feel guilty for enjoying mealtimes so much more without her there.
My other DC are younger and feels like we're playing at happy families when we have a stress free meal. So I can't help but feel it must be upsetting for her to be left out, even though it's her choice. And I think that's what I need to get over. Those are my feelings, not hers.

zzzzz Wed 17-Aug-16 23:47:34

Why not have something else she does at table while you eat sometimes?

Colouring or something temptingly unusual like vegetable carving grin.

People do things that are appealing to them so find what that is.

As far as the actual eating together goes, I wouldn't care.

Melawati Wed 17-Aug-16 23:59:22

zzzzz that's an interesting idea, but it's the sitting together she finds the hardest.
But I think what might work for her is being around just one other person, so we could try that.
She finds it very hard to share (attention, time, food, toys, anything really), and I think that might be at the root of some of the difficulties with mealtimes.

zzzzz Thu 18-Aug-16 00:31:42

What about totally ignoring the fact it's a meal time and just having what she is doing going on on the table, then shifting it to one end so you guys can eat on the other and she can keep going, If you can get her to have already sat and done stuff with you several times before you have to ask her to come to the table to do it iyswim then it will be so much easier for her.

nb if your household is anything like mine you will have to explain this in detail with dh first or he will tell her to pack up grin

Candle making is very un-portable [innocent]

OneInEight Thu 18-Aug-16 06:35:49

We have let ds2 do this for a couple of years. Interestingly, he can cope with two of us but not all three (regardless of who the third person is) so I would suggest giving opportunities sometimes for communal eating when there is only part of the family around. Yes, I do worry he feels rejected BUT he has increased the range of food he eats and is back to eating meals rather than snacking throughout the day on dry bread and satsuma's. So overall I think it has been a good strategy to employ.

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