Mealtime can be a challenge for many parents and if you have a child with sensory issues, Autism Advocate Christina Van Ditto Warter says it presents an entirely new set of challenges.
Christina, who is the founder of Soul and Mind Evolution, says there are ways that parents can make mealtime fun and nutritious for all ages. She says that starting with a welcoming environment can be the first step.
Christina hails from her own experiences in addressing her daughter Gia’s challenges with food. Gia has AFRID, also known as Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder, which is when selective eating becomes dangerous. The disorder is common among Autistics and Christina says she finds that taking an instinctive parenting approach has been helpful for the whole family when addressing ways for Gia to recover.
“We have things on the table that Gia helped co-create that has helped with confidence building and building that interest in coming to the table,” she says. Christina also has activities for her daughter to do when she does land at the table with little emphasis on food and more on having her come, and be part of the experience, she adds.
Naturally, the whole family has benefited from the approach and mealtime ritual too, making it the perfect way for any family to keep kids engaged, eating and gathering at the dinner table night after night.
“There is a lot to be said about the challenges of sitting down for dinner in today’s age for many families,” she adds. “The emphasis needs to be less on the outcome of a perfect meal and mealtime experience and more on the process of coming together, building a healthy relationship with food, and bonding with one another – whether that’s on paper, flatware, frozen or homemade.”
And while Christina shares her own experiences publicly in an effort to spread awareness and acceptance of neurodiversity, one lesson rings true for her and in turn for everyone time after time.
“What I have learned along the way as a special needs mama, is that what is best for Gia, is usually best for us all,” she adds.
Christina is the founder of Soul and Mind Evolution (S.A.M.E) located in Auburn New York. To learn more about how you and your family can benefit from her programs visit her online at SoulAndMindEvolution.com.