Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Thanksgiving Feast or Dinner Roll?

Thanksgiving. It is such a special time of year: a time of reflection, a time for reuniting with family, a time to share in a feast that we all enjoy so much. 

Wait. Sometimes holidays like Thanksgiving are not enjoyed by all. Thanksgiving for some people with autism is a virtual nightmare. The break in routine, the smells, the noise, and all that hugging, is enough to cause a lot of anxiety. 

For so many of us who are the caregivers of a person with autism, a large family gathering is a time to dread the conversation at the family meal, because we know it has the potential to revolve around the lone dinner roll on our kid's plate. All that delicious food and our kid takes a dinner roll. He does not eat turkey, would never try something green or orange in color, and would physically gag if you were to put a vegetable on his plate. And so he and his dinner roll become the topic of conversation. Again. And we are bombarded with questions, made to feel guilty and defensive, and given advice about feeding our child. 

We hear: "Have you tried making him take one bite?" And we respond with the best vomit story we have, because we HAVE thought of that and have tried it more than once. It did not work. We have to reassure great aunts and distant cousins that we have indeed taken our child to the doctor and he is physically very healthy, living on his diet of bread, potato chips and cheese pizza. And then we hear the most dreaded comment of all. It's the one that makes a lot of us moms bite our lip until it hurts. "If he were to get hungry enough he would eat". How hungry is "hungry enough"? One time my son went three days when he was three years old. He had a sore throat and didn't take a bite of food for three days. Think he was hungry enough? Other autism moms have similar stories. We HAVE tried all the things you could possibly think of to try, but autism wins, every single time. Autism wins. Our kids are different than your kids are and were. 

Thanksgiving, a time to be thankful and count our blessings. I, for one, am very thankful for a son who has taught me to be a kinder person, a more patient person, a more giving person, a more loving person, and a more tolerant person. If you have someone in your life with special needs who refuses the feast this year and goes to sit with their dinner roll, please remember that his caregiver is doing the best that he/she can and would love to talk about almost anything at the dinner table except the lone dinner roll on his/her child's plate. 

Note: This was written with many people in mind and because of the dozens and dozens of stories I've heard from my readers. It is no reflection of my own situation at this time. My family has long since accepted Tate's eating habits and are very understanding of it all. 



  1. Thank one seems to understand to include his pediatrician...he tells me to make him take a bite...I can't force my son to eat...Lord knows I'm tired of the battles all because someone else thinks they know what is best for my child! Thank you for showing my family I'm not alone in my struggle.

  2. My nephew is autistic real bad and his nutritionist and doctor said that fried greasy foods are not good for him. Junk food is the worse, but that is what he likes to eat. Rolls, french fries and chips. You have to let them eat whatever they will. You can't starve them. Some people really get to me. If you have not been in their shoes, don't say anything because you don't know or understand. Thank you for posting this. It is very encouraging.

  3. A dinner roll was the ONLY thing my 2yr old would eat today on Thanksgiving. This made me smile thinking of him & it let's me know other parents go through similar struggles.

  4. My sons diet when younger consisted of Bread, Cheese, chicken and milk. Until recently, that was all he would eat. We tried the must take a bite and ended up with Severe Projectile Vomit, that ended that one. He is 13 now and has added a few more foods to his diet but it is a very slow process. I am so thankful for these stories because it does show, we are not alone with this issue.

  5. As they say you can bring a horse to water but you can't make them drink. Until your're in someone shoes don't dictate what's right or wrong.

  6. My son made his own biscuits and th st is what he ate. He did share them with others.

  7. We make all OUR special dishes on Thanksgiving that take hours of prep, cook and bake time. Why is it so hard to fathom that we make something "special" for our Autistic child?? We make a corn pudding on Thanksgiving and my son will only eat plain corn I forgot to heat it and put it on the table. When he asked did I have it, I jumped up to quickly get it out of the can and heat it up. A couple of my family members were baffled and insisted he just eat the corn pudding. We had like 10 dishes on the table. I felt that was the least I could do for him Mind you, he is 22 and we have been dealing with this for at least 20 years, you think they would finally get it??!!!


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