Jacket potatoes and pork

When Polar Bear was three, maybe four, the very words jacket potato or pork would send him into a meltdown. He could meltdown quite badly when given a demand he couldn’t meet but they were nothing compared to the food meltdowns. It got to the point that I couldn’t have even normal potatoes in the house for fear they would become the dreaded jacket potatoes. He checked every bit of meat I brought into the house to ensure it wasn’t pork. He wasn’t keen on beef either but that word didn’t reduce him to meltdown, probably because I didn’t buy it often enough.

Now most ‘normal’ people would think I had tried to force feed him these foods. Some people unaccustomed to Autistic children very well might have tried. Apart from some efforts to conceal food in meals such as hiding nuts in cakes and a couple of times I did try to pass beef off as a vegetable in soups, I didn’t try to force him to eat jacket potatoes or pork. Alas these were some of my favourite foods and ones I had to give up for a few years until the very mention of them didn’t induce a fit of rage within him. I bet you can imagine how easy that was for me, the demand of not being allowed certain food, not sure how I didn’t end up having a meltdown myself.

It wasn’t until some years later that I learnt about sensory processing disorder that I realised the reason why he protested so at having those foods in the house. Also why he still even now will not eat most meats. It was the texture of them that was the problem. Pork, beef and the skin of the jacket potato are all thick and tough, this obviously didn’t agree with his mouth. It wouldn’t surprise me if even hearing the word caused him to remember the feeling of the texture in his mouth and thus caused the meltdowns. Luckily I caught on quick and stopped buying and saying the name of the offending items.

Thankfully the meltdowns have reduced. Now I can happily buy jacket potatoes and pork without worrying because he knows we wouldn’t even consider giving him them. We still have food induced meltdowns but they are usually because we have bought the wrong type of chicken or we’ve run out of whatever food he was wanting to eat that day, usually toast for breakfast. He is getting better at dealing with meal time surprises, and I am getting better at dealing with disappointments and changes and managing to keep him from melting down. He will probably always be nearly a vegetarian but I think we can live with that.

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