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Edible Nonfiction: Today's pick

Picky by Jacqueline Valencia

My ten year old has autism spectrum disorder. He needs to feel in control of his surroundings and a regular routine helps him with that. As he's grown older, he's sorted through a few taste and texture preferences to come up with this daily menu: bran muffins for breakfast, pizza for lunch, and chicken nuggets for dinner. It isn't healthy eating, I know. I've tried my best and described to him the fun in fruits and vegetables. 

"Grapes are like little exploding juice pockets!" I'd exclaim.

"No, I don't like juice," he'd reply. 

For a while, I'd serve him his regular meals with a few replacements. He'd look at his plate, move the offending foods to the side, and eat what he liked instead. I've even gone as far as serving him the same meals as my husband and I. We'd sit. He'd scream. His plate would stay full. It was exasperating. I could have played the bad guy and sent him to bed without any dinner. I'm told kids don't let themselves starve. This is different though. In a world that he doesn't understand, he lashes out in huge screaming fits which are more frustrating to me than his eating habits. I have to choose my battles or risk losing my head.

One day we were at a kids' birthday party. To my relief, they had pizza. They also had a fresh vegetable platter of cherry tomatoes, celery sticks, and baby carrots. I went to take a carrot, looked up and noticed my son nonchalantly grazing on a celery stick. My heart quickened. Was I seeing this right?

On the walk home I asked him if he liked celery. He said, "No, but all the other kids were having some. They're nuts!"

I'll take what I can get.

Jacqueline Valencia is from Toronto, ON

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