5 Tips to Make the Kitchen Connection for Kids with Autism

By Melanie Potock

As a speech-language pathologist specializing in pediatric feeding treatment, I work mostly with kids, food and creating happier mealtimes for families. I often find the kitchen is the heart of the home, where parents are most relaxed and where we can build relationships with kids with autism, especially if they are hesitant eaters.

To help SLPs and parents embark on their food adventure, I offer five tips to make the kitchen connection for kids with autism.

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The Cooking Connection

By Melanie Potock

I once had a client with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), age 10, who had a history of picky eating and feeding difficulties. He also had an affinity for movie production logos, from the iconic roaring lion that represents MGM to the letters and swing-arm white desk lamp that form the Pixar logo. Based on my experience with tackling such feeding difficulties, I sought to merge his interest in logos with exploring new foods.

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Understanding Autism: Restaurant Meltdowns

By Melanie Potock

I sat in a popular restaurant chain and watched an 8 year old boy have a major meltdown at his table. His mother cringed as lunch time patrons stared. An irritated couple at a nearby booth got up and moved, but only after glaring at the mother. I’ll be honest, the child was disrupting my lunch too, but one thing I suspected was that this child had autism. He appeared to be just like any other child, but the intensity of his outburst was out of proportion to the issue he was yelling about: The waiter had served him waffle fries and he had expected “skinny fries” just like the french fries served at home.

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Health experts: Longmont case an extreme example of dietary deprivation

By Amelia Arvesen

A boy consumes the highest amount of calories in his life as a teenager, which Boulder County dietitians consider a crucial time for him to grow into a healthy and strong man. Yet if he were exclusively fed junk food over an extended period of time, they say his body would begin to wither away without the adequate nourishment.

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Autism and the School Cafeteria: Four Tips to Help Kids Eat

By Melanie Potock

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all students get at least 20 minutes to eat lunch, but many public elementary schools give kids just 20 minutes to enter, eat and exit the chaos of the cafeteria. Students often receive less time to get nutritious meal in their bellies than state governments provide for adult hourly wage-earners. For example, in Colorado, the law requires employers to provide an uninterrupted 30-minute lunch period.

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