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More to the Story

So a 17-year-old has to be hospitalized for apparent exhaustion and malnutrition after consuming a diet almost entirely consisting of Chicken McNuggets since age 2.   I think there simply has to be more to the story.

You might think that the mom in this case has boodles of money to spend on the nuggets and you might be wrong.  I do know of parents of autistic children who DO NOT have tons of money to burn who have to order from restaurant x every night or the child WILL NOT EAT.  I mean will not eat for days.  Average parents might assume that by not going back to the restaurant, the kid will get over it and everything will be ok. 

Not so in some cases!  I have a very good friend and excellent, excellent parent whose child eats ONLY peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  They are working very, very hard with therapists to get her to so much as TOUCH other food.  You do not know what other families go through sometimes if you think that's weird.  It's unfortunately not very weird or unusual at all in the autism community.

In fact, I think that this is an area of autism that isn't studied very well.  Parents don't want to open up about the fact that their child eats only microwaved pretzels and pop-tarts with cashews (ahem) and another barrier to studying this problem?  There are so many more pressing things to research, such as learning speech and toileting.  Even 'social skills' seem more important to researchers.

I'm not way on the bandwagon with the idea that if you just eat "right," perfect health will follow.  But can we please not fool ourselves that it has no effect?  There should be some research and help in this area, and when help arrives please let it be coverable by major insurances.  (Nutrition advice and other help is not covered by my or most other major plans.  They would rather pay the cost of care for diabetes and heart disease.  Shameful.) 

It just seems to me that when *I* go to the doctor, I get told about what to eat and the fact that I am eating too much (ok, true).  When I take Woodjie, the doctor recommends a multivitamin.  Maybe.  Or just tells me to keep working on it and that I am doing a good job.

I DO like hearing that I am doing a good job.  I appreciate that.  I wish there were more we could do to help our children.  By the way, I thought I would head the "just take three bites" kinds of comments off at the pass.  I have had children vomit at the table when I've done that.  You would not believe what some parents go through, and I know several.  It is almost as though certain foods that are not favourite (read: about all foods on the planet) are a trauma to these people.  And I get that eating right is important.  So is the child's emotional health if he is sincerely distressed, vomiting, panicked, and all that.

I can tell you also that for a time, I went through the "I am a happy homemaker who can feed her family on $3 a day" phase.  You know the kind.  Casseroles.  Homemade breads.  Noodle dishes.  Elf lost TEN pounds as a kindergartener.  He was very, very sickly.  The doctor saw that as the emergency it was and said just go ahead and feed him his peanut butter sandwiches.  Peanut butter is actually something doctors swear by to put on weight.  I still feel sad that I was not able to feed my family properly.  Sometimes when I get out the pop-tarts and microwave pretzels I wish for better things, but... I just can't have my children lose weight and get sick like that.

You might think you know the family's situation in the article, but you might just not.  I'm concerned for her because of how chicken nuggets are made if for no other reason. 


  1. I totally agree! As we both know "C" eats only PB&J, applesauce, and yes the dreaded Chicken Nuggets and french fries. Once I found out about the Chicken Nugget creation I had to eliminate it from her diet (it's just too gross to think about and let her eat them)! Now I am dealing with "S" not wanting to eat anything. The frustration of trying repeatedly to no avail and the the fear of having my children either being taken away from me for malnutrition or them getting really sick has consumed me lately! I feel for other families in this boat.

  2. This is an important post and I agree whole-heartedly with what you are saying.

    WHY are our kids such picky eaters? Ben would eat ice cream, french fries, chicken nuggets, and mcdonald hamburgers. There was something else, because it was 5 things, but I can't remember it now. And he salted it all so much no one else could eat it. Social Skills...pfffttttt....makes it all about the kids, and not what is wrong, why they suffer such unusual adaptions.

    Oy...time for a cup o'tea....breathe, Rose....relax...

    PS, chicken nuggets are nasty!

  3. People in general are so quick to pass judgment on other people they really know nothing about. They just don't understand. And they want to stick each and every one of us into a neat little box and label us. In truth, it keeps them from truly engaging with the world around them, they can stay stuck in their own little worlds with their own ideas of how things are or should be. Wake up people!

  4. I also get upset when people make judgements and really show their ignorance. Two of my grandchildren have Tourette's Syndrome. Food has always been a problem for them because of swallowing problems and the consistency of certain foods, especially meat. We know that one of them will just not eat certain foods. I try to have foods on hand that I know he will eat. He loves dairy foods, cereals and fruit. We also have to be careful with additives and dyes. His mom and dad accept this and keep food on hand that will be healthy.

    At a family get together recently, I asked his mom what he would like to eat. Another dil remarked, "My children eat whatever is put on their plates". This made me angry, because she just didn't understand the situation at all. She can't even begin to imagine what it takes to keep this little guy healthy.

    Thank you for letting me vent! I enjoy your blog, but don't comment often.

  5. Loved this post! I was just going to blog about other people's opinions and how tired I get of them. This after a hard night of no sleeping (Ian) and having to come home from church early, because he just wasn't going to do it today. He LOVES chicken nuggets, still has a bottle at 3 (bed time, nap time, and at church), and refuses to eat any fruit. We feed him what he will eat and give him a vitamin. Never have been able to get his child care provider to understand that--she just thinks we are bad eaters.


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