The Back to School Lunch Box For A Child With Autism

Confession: I’m a Pinterest addict. I could waste hours of my time pinning everything I love into super organized creative boards. For some people, being a Pinterest addict evolves into beautiful homes, organized closets, gourmet food and fantastic crafts. For me, it is pretty much just a time waster. You see, while I have all these amazing intentions, very rarely (actually never), do they come to fruition. I am the person that wants to be the person who lives a Pinterest life, but it’s really not going to happen. If you have ever been on Pinterest during back to school time, you’ll see a ton of pins all about how awesome you can make your child’s lunch for school. It’s become a competition that could rival an Olympic sport! I see very cool things called Bento boxes, then there are sandwiches cut into different shapes, and fruit made into animals. These lunches look amazing – even I’d want one for at work! There isn’t a kid out there who wouldn’t love opening their lunch box to see a penguin made from bocconcini, black olives and carrots…except for my son.

Putting The Lunch Box Creative Competition Into Perspective For A Child With Autism

I used to spend almost as much time worrying about how limited my son’s diet is as I did on Pinterest. But then I just told myself to be quiet and put perspective on what really matters….
  1. While my son’s palate may not be extensive, it is relatively healthy. He doesn’t eat a lot of vegetables, but the amount of fruit he consumes pretty much makes up for it. He eats good proteins at least twice a day and only drinks water.
  2. Being gluten free, dairy free, and soy free is not only hard, but really limiting. Ensuring he is fed is more important than making him a caterpillar made from grapes.
  3. My 9 year old son with Autism can get his own lunch bag from his backpack, sit properly with his peers, open his containers, eat his lunch, close his containers, clean his space, and return his lunch bag to his backpack all independently. Again more important than creating an octopus with his pepperoni stick.
  4. He eats a huge breakfast every morning and always all of his dinner. Does a big lunch really matter, or would just a few snacks be enough?
  5. Our life is busy. Between therapy, doctor appointments, behaviour protocols, visual schedules, and perseveration, it feels like there is never enough time in the day. When I do have a free minute I certainly don’t want to use that delicately placing sesame seeds on a bun in the pattern of the Milky Way.
Most importantly, if he doesn’t care that he eats the same thing every day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, then really why should I? He is 9, as he grows his tastes may change, or they may not. As a child with Autism it is so important that he have some independence and decision making abilities, and if that means I am the crazy woman in the grocery store price matching Pillar’s pepperoni sticks because they are half off than so be it. Remember – it could be so much worse! There are some children out there who can’t articulate what they want for lunch, so just be happy if you have a child that can. Trust me – it’s way more important than food animals will ever be.

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