I have a few big fears as a special needs parent:
What will happen if I die? What will my child do when she finishes her education?
What if my child gets ill and I don’t realise because of her communication difficulties?
How do I make sure my child keeps safe when they are so vulnerable?
And what on earth will I do if the frozen food shop near me stops selling their nuggets?
That last one is seriously one of my biggest worries. Why?
Well because that one brand of nuggets is the ONLY thing my daughter will eat for breakfast and lunch every single day.
Even then, unfortunately, she doesn’t even eat the full nugget just the batter coating.
Honestly, that’s all she eats!
Dinner is the only meal she has anything different and then it’s just one brand of pie of which she only eats the soft pastry and nothing more.
On a good day, we might get a spoonful of baked beans but never any other vegetables or fruit or bread or meat of any description.
It’s not for want of trying I can assure you.
Her twin brother eats almost anything from pork stir fry to chicken curry to broccoli, kiwi fruit and anything else put in front of him.
My cupboards and fridge and freezer are full of a full array of delicious healthy foods that she’ll happily put in the supermarket trolley or even cook…but never ever eat.
Of course, I worry about her diet so much. I worry about how it will affect her growth, her brain development and her bodily functions.
I worry how it will limit her life experiences and isolate her.
Most of all I worry that it will affect her health and her immune system.
Over the last thirteen years I have tried everything from bribery, reward charts and involving her in the preparation and cooking.
None of it made a difference in any way.
Eating simply causes her severe anxiety.
She craves consistency, predictability and understanding.
What many just dismiss as ‘fussy eating’ is anything but.
In fact, her limited diet is due to severe sensory issues, heightened anxiety and the rigid thinking that so often accompanies autism.
Pressurising her to eat something else, or even worse making a different brand and ‘pretending’ it’s her safe one, only makes everything worse.
Incredibly her recent blood tests came back normal and she’s growing, developing and remaining as healthy as her peers.
Her bodily functions work perfectly and accidentally she’s doing well.
So despite my worries I readily and willing cook those nuggets yet again praying that the company never decide to change the recipe, or even worse, discontinue making them.
I allow her to eat where she’s comfortable and we never force her to eat at the table surrounded by smells, colours and noise that overloads her senses.
I listen to her, respect her choices and let her know that if she ever wants to try anything else then she’s free to do so.
Maybe one day she will.
Until then I pray that battered nuggets will always be available when we need them.