Fall is here and Thanksgiving is just around the corner. For many, the cuisine is the center of the holiday. Though for parents and caregivers whose little ones struggle with eating, you might be nervous about how they handle such a food driven holiday. Here are some tips from the MeBe team to help make this Thanksgiving a great one!
Not a regular dinner
Thanksgiving dinner is not your regular dinner routine, and for problem feeders or kiddos with an autism diagnosis, a change in routine could present more challenges. Your Thanksgiving dinner might have new sights, smells, textures, and not to mention foods touching! The holidays are stressful enough, the last thing you need is a dinnertime meltdown.
What’s your goal for the day?
It’s important as parents or caregivers, to set a goal for the day. What is the single most important thing your child can accomplish today? That might be simply sitting at the dining table without any problematic behaviors. Or perhaps, eating at least three food groups. Whatever your goal may be, focus on achieving that goal, and that goal only. If your goal for the day is to sit politely at the table, then there is no need to convince your child to try cranberry sauce. We can save that exploration for another time.
So what can you do to prepare?
If you are hosting this year’s festivities, one thing you can do is get your child involved in the preparation process. They can help with cooking, setting the table, folding napkins, or whatever matches their developmental capabilities. You might consider making a menu or labeling where certain dishes will be served to help further prepare your child for Thanksgiving dinner. Social stories are another great way to visually depict the sequences of events that will take place during Thanksgiving. Every family has their own traditions, so if you can’t find a Social Story online that matches your traditions, consider making your own. Along those lines, visual schedules are another great tool you can use to keep your child on track with the Thanksgiving day routine.
Day-of Tips and Tricks
We want you to have a successful Thanksgiving as much as you do, so we have a few more tips up our sleeves that will hopefully allow for smooth sailing.
Serve your child’s meal on plates that separate foods
Allow your child to eat alone if that’s preferred
Have an “all done” bowl, which is a safe place to eliminate foods from plate once finished
Find new traditions that your child enjoys partaking in
How MeBe can Help
If you notice that your child is exhibiting some problematic eating tendencies and behavioral issues at dinnertime like crying or avoiding food, give MeBe a call to see if one of our Speech and Language Pathologists or Occupational Therapists can help.