Tag Archives: special

Adventures of The Sneaky Chef in the Cave of the Aspie Kid

15 Jul

Boy Genius

A couple of months ago I intended to blog on this fabulous book (The Sneaky Chef) we had bought, hoping to increase nutritional value for our whole family, particularly Alex. I mentioned Alex’s food quirks and “rules” a little in my post “Islands in the Stream” and promised to check back in about the book.

Well, here I am. A little older, a little wiser, a lot more cooking under my belt than I typically do. I enjoyed my experiments and the creativity exercised in the kitchen. I really enjoyed that because of my abnormal level of fatigue and pain (yay, isn’t arthritis fun!) Jeff did the dishes and the grocery shopping so I could focus on inoculating tasty and fun foods with extra nutrition to make one of kiddo’s primary personal goals (and one of our goals as his parents) come to fruition.

Alex wants to grow up big and strong and healthy.

And we want him to grow up big and strong and healthy as well. (By big we mean: Not frail)

We have always avoided the concept of “the clean plate club” as in my million plus years of Weight Watchers meetings I had seen and heard of the fallout of such parenting & nutritional methods. And, as someone who has been on a diet since 3 weeks old (yes, you heard me: weeks) and I am still experiencing the fallout from that (I’ll cover that in another entry, at another time. Promise.)

So I am particularly sensitive to not taking the warden approach to nutrition. Our goal for Alex, in all aspects of his life, was to give him the tools to be able to make the best decisions, for himself, in his life. This applies to work, health, his personal life, etc… I do want to thank Early Intervention for asking us the important question of what we want for him and his life. We learned to keep it non-specific enough that we don’t suffocate him with our expectations, but enough that we can build goals. Good and important stuff.

So, we decided to start “Sneaky-cheffing” more nutrition into his regular foods and he even helped me (we both got so messy! he didn’t freak out completely! it was wonderful!) prepare a few recipes.

But guess what we found out? Our experiment reiterated that kiddo will probably never eat a casserole or anything remotely resembling a casserole- even homemade macaroni & cheese with real cheese rather than packet of powdery stuff is too much of a multiple texture experience for him. He’ll eat Annie’s Mac n’ Cheese but not the stuff I spent so much time planning and prepping and cooking. He also won’t eat any whole vegetables other than carrots. Think about it: Carrots are the same consistency all the way through- I can’t think of another vegetable that does that…Maybe peeled and cooked potato chunks-but then there’s a certain graininess, and with sweet potatoes a certain stringiness… Anyway, this goes beyond regular little kid dislikes and pickiness- these textures actually make Alex dry heave (or barf. Depending how deep we are into the meal.)

Some ideas from The Sneaky Chef worked beautifully- the idea of adding extra nutrition everywhere has stuck with me- even as far as adding water to a recipe (or instructions on a box)- I don’t add water (well not every time, I still need to work on the planning thing!) but use a nutritious liquid instead. I learned that blueberry juice doesn’t curdle milk and makes a fun colored alternative to plain white milk (or soy milk…Alex seems to change his preferences every couple of weeks)…

I also learned that we can sneak some of the purees suggested in the book into some foods, without objection.

Then Alex saw the jars. Ok, when I first started using the book I made my own purees. But as backups we had the recommended jars of baby food (not all of the purees are available as baby foods, and the homemade purees and mixes are much cheaper and not difficult to make and freeze).
Alex saw the jars. I took a deep breath. He voiced a little panic about baby food being for babies.

So I asked him (remember, he is deeply logical and literal and rule based. Think Spock to the nth power):
ME:Who eats baby food?
ALEX: Babies
ME: Are you a baby?
ALEX: No. I’m a big guy. BIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIGGGGGG! (makes war face and flexes and almost knocks himself over)
ME: What do you eat?
ALEX: Big Guy food.
ME: If you eat a cracker is it Big Guy food?
ALEX: Yes.
ME: So if you are not a baby and you eat the stuff in this jar then what is it?
ALEX: I’m not a baby!
ME: That’s right! You are a big guy! SO, if you eat the stuff in this jar & you are not a baby then the food in this jar cannot be baby food! It’s only baby food if a baby is eating it.
If a BIG GUY is eating it, it’s called “PUREE”!
ALEX: I like puree!
ME: YAY!

So, after all of our experiments trying to sneak “puree” into his foods we found out that Alex doesn’t like it mixed in. He likes it plain and separate from his regular food.

Of course, he has to announce, at the start of the meal, “It’s only baby food if a baby is eating it. If I eat it then it’s puree!”. Seriously. He says it every time.

Perhaps, if he adjusts to the taste this way, he’ll be more accepting of various textures eventually. Until then, I’m happy to serve him his vegetables in this manner.

A wise person once said, in regards to parenting, “Pick your battles”.

As he slugs down jars of summer vegetables (a sneaky way of disguising what actual veggies are in there- summer veggies are ok, broccoli & spinach, etc -not so much. Don’t forget, on top of our Adventures with Asperger’s, our Alex is still a kid. Sometimes, I guess that maybe it’s like having twins.) I realize that we both are winning and we can focus on moving forward to bigger and better things. I try to point out that it’s like a bisque, but he corrects me “Puree!”

I still think The Sneaky Chef is totally worth the purchase (Amazon has copies from <$2.00 + shipping to brand new…any which way, I think it's worth it) it was a great jumping off place for figuring out some small ways to enhance nutrition for the whole family.

(We have been getting various supplies through Amazon.com lately- yes, the Prime program is awesome! They do carry Earth's Best in 12 packs and Annie's Mac n' Cheese as a 6 pack- actually, with Prime, it winds up being less expensive than our chain supermarket and they are delivered right to our door. I'll post a link to my amazon store soon, where I'll have all of the things I have mentioned with links, to make things easier for everyone!)

xo
Bek

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Opportunity to bust down some barriers…

18 Jun

Ode to Boy.

30 May

Alex
Alex

Originally uploaded by CleverIndie

Today we went to the Kindergarten graduation ceremony at Alex’s school. Alex and the rest of the pre-primary kids had prepared a song. I slept a little longer than the boys this morning, and Jeff got Alex dressed. Alex was thrilled to wear a buttondown (his favorite type of shirt) and his rockin’ tie from Toybreaker.Etsy.com.  (Alex has been doing mostly kindergarten work this year, but will be starting his official kindergarten year in August as we all agree he needs the extra time, and the nature of the program allows for this flexibility which is important for a kid like Alex who is uneven as far as development goes.)

We got to school and took our seats…Listened to the squawking of the first group of kids playing the recorder. The next group went up, and gave a little history on Beethoven and his impact on the world and on music, then they started to play…

With those first few familiar notes I looked at Alex and he looked at me and put his head on my arm, and my big boy snuggled so close to me. His eyes were sparkling, starry and happy and overwhelmed and so in the moment. Classmates were play fighting in the back of the room, parents were craning their heads to keep track of their wandering pre-schoolers, and Ode to Joy swelled through the room. And for the first time, it was like this was a moment, a song, an experience, that he was truly connected to. His mind wasn’t elsewhere, he wasn’t talking about buttons on radios, or how a siphon in a toilet works…

He sings Ode to Joy non-stop in his head (and many times aloud) from morning to night and probably even in his dreams. It’s his constant. Ode to Joy calms him and provides comfort through the million and one transitions in his day- some of those transitions are so minor to the casual onlooker, that they would never identify them as such. Everything is a transition in some way, Alex is always very aware of this. Ode to Joy is his security blanket. I know the other kids in his school don’t have their personal theme music playing in their mind 24/7/365, but they don’t need to either. Alex needs that. He identified it himself and started using it as a tool. It seems to quiet the rest of his very active mind so he can function at any level.

On some days it seems like walking, chewing gum, and trying to juggle flaming ginsu knives while translating Lewis Carroll using only a Berlitz guide, into an unfamiliar language (with a different alphabet), while someone barks random numbers and throws sand at you, all at the same time.

To decompress after school and on weekends and holidays, Alex stands in front of his radio and watches the numbers and listens to the 10 different versions of Ode to Joy we loaded onto the ipod for him. Occasionally he pops out of his room to declare something Ode to Joy or plumbing related, but mostly he needs this decompression, the radio supplies the song so the part of his brain that has it on mental repeat during regular daily functioning can rest.

But today, once they started to play the song, he was in the moment.

His brilliant and busy brain and the outside world converged in the space of that room, perched upon a folding plastic chair.

He was at peace for a moment, so connected. So was I. My brain is usually working on how to help him and the things I have to do, there is no down time.

But in that short yet gigantic moment today, both of us were present, for the first time in forever.

And his face and eyes, when they met mine, told me that he was overwhelmed that the world had finally connected with him.

Label Making.

23 Apr

labels

Labels.

Originally uploaded by CleverIndie

Awhile ago, before we really understood what was going on with Alex, I blogged about my label maker…

I really have stopped using it (yeah, not so much disorganized as trying to get rid of the unnecessary things and not commit to keeping them by putting them in a box and labeling them, but not totally committed to….let’s just say my brain is elsewhere… and at this rate I don’t know if I could find it if I needed to)

Before Alex started pre-school he was obsessing over my label maker.
As a reward for doing his best (with anything really) I would let him use my dymo handheld label maker to print one label.

I figured he might type his name, maybe the alphabet A-Z, perhaps some numbers…He took to typing things out in the way one might use a speak & spell…

This image consists of all of the labels he made over the course of a couple of weeks.

Checking reflexes…

22 Feb

Today I was talking to Jeff about some spine info I found on the internet.  I haven’t been googling about my shoulder, and my arm being numb and shaky. I was going to do that after the MRI and it has gotten somewhat intermittant rather than constant and constantly worsening… But it’s still there…

And my legs are weak.

So I know something is going on.  So I googled.  I read aloud to Jeff.

And Alex heard me.

He comes in to the bedroom, smiles and me and

“BAM!”

Slams my left knee cap with his solid hardwood toy tool bench hammer.

Shocked the daylights out of me.

He told me “like at the doctors”

I replied “they use a rubber hammer!”

Jeff came to see what the fuss was about and I lost it.  I just cried and cried and cried, while I really wanted to laugh but the tears just kept coming.  It was funny, by itself it’s funny…..But my body does not agree…  My back hurts, it feels like a stack of cement blocks grinding against each other, whittling themselves down to nothing.  It’s not just pain, it’s that nails on chalkboard, things not moving right feeling that won’t quit.  My right arm isn’t working right, it’s numb or all pins and needles and the intention tremor is worse. And now my legs feel like I just ran a marathon and went on a bar crawl- sore and rubbery, wobbly.

Blech.

Kiddo feels so bad about the hammer thing.  He was trying to help. He is always trying to help me feel better.  And that makes me feel so terrible.  I want him to focus on being a kid, I want to be able to enjoy his childhood and his life and I really want to participate.

I hope this is just some temporary swelling thing and nothing that requires anything else to drag the last of my energy and my strength away from me.

Will update soon…

xo

b

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