The Eating Handbook for Children with Autism – Michelle Brown
I haven’t mentioned cost so far in these reviews – but I find that an awful lot of books about autism and SEN are really expensive, especially considering the target market. Depending on how many other professionals you know and what libraries you have access to (especially with e-book lending coming to more and more libraries) then you can get free access to a number of books, but not all of them by a long shot. Anyway, the reason I mention cost is because I hope that nobody paid the £7.19 that this book is listed for on the UK Amazon (or the $11 that it’s listed for in the US). It’s available through Prime/Kindle Unlimited so I’m hoping all the people who did read it got access to it that way because this book is 34 pages long. It is certainly not comprehensive, as it’s tagline claims to be.
Now the book itself isn’t bad. I’ve used a lot of the advice in it myself. The author talks (very) briefly about the reasons why an autistic child might not eat, and then moves onto strategies to get your child involved with food, to stay at the table, to expand their diet and working with sensitivities.
- Determine the potential factors that are impacting your child’s eating. Being aware of these will help you in deciding your plan of attack. They are also helpful in reminding you to be be compassionate towards your child’s challenging behavior.
At the end of each section is an action plan as shown above, which helps to break down the ideas and approaches into manageable chunks to make it easier to implement them. The author talks about routines, visual strategies, portion sizes, ways to get the child involved in setting up for dinner or just involved with food at all.
There’s also some good advice on sensory activities and occupational therapy involvement to help your child at mealtimes. There are one or two pieces of advice that aren’t quite so great:
When your child just won’t eat zucchini no matter how much you’ve played with, prepared and shopped for zucchini…your child just might not be ready to eat it. If this is the case, it might be time to let it go for now before it becomes a power struggle.
Or…your child might not like zucchini. I know that seems blindingly obvious but I’ve worked with a few people who have complained that no matter how often they try and introduce a certain food to a child’s diet they just won’t take. They seem stunned when you suggest to them that maybe the child just doesn’t like the food in question. We don’t expect neurotypical adults, let alone children, to like every piece of food, so why would you keep trying a specific food item that your autistic child doesn’t like? If a child is accepting other additions to their diet then it might be worth considering that perhaps they just really don’t like zucchini.
There is good advice in this book but only if you are basically starting at the beginning in terms of learning about resistant eating. If you are in anyway familiar with OT/SLT strategies for eating, or if you have already read anything on resistant eating then there is probably very little, if anything in this book for you. It is very basic and most of the advice is common sense. I personally got nothing out of the book because I had already read two other books on resistant eating that were far more comprehensive.
So if you can read this book for £0.99 or less (like if you have Prime in the US or Kindle Unlimited in the UK) and know next to nothing about resistant eating then go ahead and give it a read. The advice that is there is good, practical and easy to implement. For everyone else, it’s probably not worth it.