IDEAL SNACKS FOR AUTISTIC KIDS
Children are always on the move. They are playful in nature and can be very spontaneous with what they do. When their creativity or curiosity is put into play, it is easy for them to get absorbed by the whole fun and games that they don’t stop until exhaustion starts to kick in. This natural characteristic of children, coupled with their constant need for nutrients and minerals to grow, puts many parents in a common dilemma which is finding the ideal way to augment their child’s nutrition in between meals. It is common practice by parents from all around the world to prepare snacks for their kids whenever they send them to school or bring them to outdoor activities where their kids are expected to consume energy. Even a whole day spent at home can be exhausting for kids, which is why parents cannot miss giving snacks as much as they can.
In the case of autistic children, parents cannot just prepare any sort of snack that they think their child would want. Aside from the presentation factor, parents should also consider the composition of the food, and see to it that it doesn’t contain gluten, soy, or casein which are known to worsen autism features. The flavor and texture of the food are also equally important because autistic kids have sensory issues and possibly a decreased sense of taste caused by the medication they take. If you are unsure of what types of snacks to give to your autistic kid, the list below may help you come up with better ideas.
Fresh Fruit Shakes
One of the safest and most nutritious snacks that you can give to your child is a fruit shake of their choice. If you have an idea as to what fruit your child prefers to eat, then go for it and make a shake out of it. It will be tougher when you can’t seem to figure out your child’s favorite or most-liked fruit, which in this case, a trial and error approach can be used. If your autistic child is not really picky and can eat any fruit provided, it would add more excitement and surprise factor if you try combining two or more kinds of fruit that would result in an even better flavor. There is a need to emphasize the freshness of the fruit because those nearing spoilage can contain yeast.
You can add milk into the shake, but it has to be non-dairy. One of the most common substitutes for dairy milk is nut milk, which is made by processing nuts, legumes (excluding soy milk), and seeds into a blender after soaking it in water. The most common type of nut milk is almond milk, which can be purchased from supermarkets and online stores. If you cannot find any kind of nut milk, you can try using coconut milk. For the toppings, you can add bits and pieces of the fruit that you used, and non-dairy sweets like sprinkles and marshmallows. But be sure to not make it too sweet for your kid, or else they will crash from reactive hypoglycemia.
Tuna/Salmon Sandwich Using Gluten-Free Bread
Many autistic children suffer from gastrointestinal problems caused by an unhealthy amount of gut bacteria and sensitivities to specific food. A diet rich in Omega 3 can help reduce the risk of gut inflammation, and this type of fatty acid can be found in fat and oily fishes like tuna and salmon. Aside from the fish filling, you also have to avoid dairy products like mayonnaise for your dressings. You can substitute the binder with guacamole, hummus, cashew cream cheese, mustard, and vegan dressings. For the bread, there are many gluten-free brands that you can buy in grocery stores, especially those that have a specified gluten-free products section.
Fresh Fruit Salad
Just like the fruit shake, this type of snack is ideal for your autistic child. If your kid does not want to take a sip on fruit shakes and similar drinks but wants to chomp on fresh fruits, chances are, they have sensory issues that discourage them from patronizing your shake. It could be the sound of the liquid or the feel of it on their mouth. When this situation happens to you, giving your child fruit salad may be the answer you’re looking for. What makes fruit salad different from shake is that the fruits somehow retain their texture, color, and flavor even when they get mixed together. Aside from that, many autistic children love to explore their food, and that includes chewing everything especially vibrant colored fruits.
Hard Boiled Eggs
The simplicity of hard boiled eggs can make it look appealing to your autistic child. Do not peel the shells by yourself because your child might be interested in peeling their own share. Not only are hard boiled eggs nutritious, they are also quite cheap and easy to make. Although a simple snack, the flexibility of a hard boiled egg can go a long way in meeting the nutritional needs of your autistic child. If your child shows that they are getting bored from snacking on simple hard boiled eggs, you can put your own twist in it. For a start, painting the egg shells with different food colors can entice your child to eat it, and you can even use the shells for your mosaic-making activity. You also make a deviled version of the eggs using non-dairy dressings.
For a more special kind of snack, you can make kid sushi for your autistic child. First, you need to have knowledge in making a standard sushi yourself and after that, everything will be easy. You have to use brown rice or other gluten-free varieties of sticky rice, and the same type of seaweed sheet or Nori. For the meat, you can use rotisserie chicken, beef sausage, and luncheon meats. Add scrambled eggs to the meat for more flavor. Arrange the meat and scrambled egg at the center of the rice before rolling it and then cut it into several circles.