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  • Writer's pictureSharon Starkey

[Guest Post] The Infamous Chicken Nugget by Suzanne Johnson

I know I cannot be the only person who chuckled a little at my title. In our house the chicken nugget is infamous. It is the one food we do not run out of ever. It is served pretty much every day, even multiple times a day. The two highest ranking nuggets in our house is McDonald’s and dino nuggets.

Being a mom to five kids I’ve seen my fair share of picky eaters. What I wasn’t aware of, was that my fourth kiddo wasn’t being picky, she actually had very valid reasons for choosing not to eat many things. 1) being on the autism spectrum 2) having textural issues – with how food feels in her mouth 3) food allergies 4) color of food 5) appearance of food.

Let me introduce you to my youngest daughter (my fourth kiddo). She only eats a handful of different food regularly. Her top chose of course is the infamous chicken nugget, ramen – shrimp flavored (the one in the pink package), tortilla chips – la favorita, honey wheat bread – bimbo soft honey wheat and hot dogs – Oscar Meyer. All these food items met her stringent criteria above.

During her earlier years I thought she was simply different. At that time I really didn’t know or understanding anything about autism. As a baby she only drank ele care formula as she was allergic to dairy. As most babies start transiting to baby food she refused to eat or try anything. I talked with her pediatrician about my concerns. I was reassured that everything was fine that she just didn’t like baby food. I was doubtful that was true. It just didn’t sit right with me. Something was different about my daughter. Shortly before her second birthday, her younger brother was born. At the time of his birth she was still on formula full time and not eating any solids. Less than a month after her little brother was born she decided to give up the bottle and formula all together. I had no idea what to do. She wouldn’t eat or drink anything. I was able to find a really good feeding therapist with Children’s Hospital Colorado. Her therapist took the stress off me trying to figure out what she did and didn’t like to eat. I do remember in the beginning of her therapy and food adventures she dipped everything in ketchup. Fruit, chips, cheerios, veggies, pretty much anything put in front of her. The ketchup obsession has seemed to pass us finally. She does still eat it occasionally. Her new thing now is BBQ sauce. After failing out of feeding therapy, I decided that she needed to take a break from that type of therapy for a while.

I remember other moms telling me not to give into her, to hold out, do not let her control you, she will eventually eat. Boy was I wrong when I tried not giving into her. I did finally. It had been three very long days of a moody four-year-old. She refused to eat anything. Anything at all. All she consumed during those three days was water. It was during this time that I realized she was not being difficult or stubborn. She truly was not eating because she couldn’t eat the foods I was offering to her because she has a disability. AUTISM.

Over the years having a child with a disability such as autism has become very normal for our family. We typically make “her food” at every meal. The rest of us tend to eat similar foods as one another.


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