Home > Topic of the Week > Back to School: What is your child eating for lunch?

Back to School: What is your child eating for lunch?

It can be a challenge for parents to make sure your child with autism is getting the right nutrition and diet while at school. How do parents make sure their child’s is continuing the eating habits and they get the nutrition they need?

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  1. Barbara Pons
    August 22, 2011 at 10:58 am

    It is very hard when they are at school or camp. I try to pack a variety of things and hope that he atleast eats something. He can buy lunch everyday. The school just has to let me know how much i own them. He always comes home starving. My poor baby boy. IAny other ideas would be great. It is a big concern of mine.

  2. Lynn RS
    August 22, 2011 at 11:37 am

    My son has been in several schools with many different scenarios. Everything from lunchbox Nazis to indifference. I have adopted a policy of making sure that his breakfast and dinner are plentiful and lunch is a snack of nutritional items. He eats dinner earlier than the family to stave off hunger. I had accommodations, “Keep your hands out of my kids lunchbox” put in his IEP and in any school he goes to that has/had any interest in what he was eating, was told in an appropriate manner, to follow the directions in the IEP. I have also told someone to call Child Services if they think I am an unfit parent. When they walk in my shoes, then they can judge. Right now, my son is constantly seen by doctors and therapists…He sees people who are trained to understand his disorders. I don’t need…or ….. want a school administrator who has no credentials in either ESE or nutrition to be telling me how to feed my child. If they have a problem with how my child eats, then let them come home with me and they can prepare all his meals. When you ask them to help your child in other ways, they don’t. But wherever they feel they can put their two cents in, they try and dominate. As you can guess,
    with administrators like this, my son is not in those type of schools.

  3. Elizabeth
    August 22, 2011 at 11:59 pm

    My daughter has been in both situations as far as lunch at school is concerned. Her last daycare (which was the best thus far), served lunch to all of the kids. I was not permitted to send a lunch with her, even though I told them that if she didn’t like it, she wouldn’t eat it. My favorite phrase in regards to my child’s “pickiness” is that “she’ll eat if she’s hungry.” Actually, no, she won’t. She’ll eat if she likes it, is the right consistency, color, or perhaps if the stars are perfectly aligned with wherever. That’s the funny thing about kids…they aren’t always predictable; just more so if they’re autistic. Ok, so she didn’t starve and we worked out a way for me to know if she ate, slept, or had any potty issues that day.
    Now we are on day 2 of all day school. I send her lunches that she picks out at the store and again at home. Today she tells me she wants to buy lunch at school like the kid who sits next to her. Go figure.

  4. Milly
    August 29, 2011 at 9:23 am

    my son eats the same thing every day. If 1 thing in his lunchbox is different he won’t touch any of it. I have heard from many teachers that kids need variety, but not this kid, I have 5 boys all up, and am fairly confident in my ‘feeding children abilities’.
    At the moment I am fine with him eating a limited diet, he gets fruit and veg and dairy and grains, he is a normal weight (ok slightly thinner) but happy to eat, much better than not eating in my book.

  5. Noreen
    August 29, 2011 at 9:31 am

    My problem has never been the Lunch I pack. It’s the Stupid and Unhealthy “cooking” classes in which my son is allergic to most of it. They need to leave the COOKING up to the MOM’s – who know best! I could see teaching them to PREP foods (peel potatoes, mix and pour, etc. or make sandwiches) but the garbage stuff they make…please!

  6. kelly
    August 29, 2011 at 9:33 am

    My son has been to so many different schools due to lack of tolerance before he was diagnosed with Autism. He has had trouble gaining weight because he does not eat well. We have tried everything to convience hin to eat and have found success at home but school is still a problem. All of the schools that he has attended can never tell me how much or if he ate. I started sending his lunch and he would come home with all of it still in his lunch bag. I am at a loss. How can I better manage his meals while he is at school?

    • sarah
      September 2, 2011 at 12:05 pm

      hello, what i did for my son with autism was get a copy of the school menu for the month and since my son has many allergies I would make (cook)the menu for school the Sunday before. but I would make it GF/DF/BF. That way he doesnt feel left out, He has kinda what everyone else has just something that wont make him sick. This also works well if you have a good teacher that you can talk to that will tell you the days that they are going to have a birthday party or party of any kind or even a snack during the day.My son is #4 of 5 boys and this works at home as well. hope this helps.

  7. tom
    August 29, 2011 at 9:46 am

    My 6 year old was one of the pickiest eaters the world has ever known. He was in day care over the summer and he wanted to fit in with the other boys. Now he comes home everyday having tried something new. His favorite new foood is tacos. Maybe when they get a little older the “fit in” factor overcomes the picky factor. We had given up hope that he would ever eat anything outside of his four or five favorite foods. But if my picky eater grew out of it, maybe there’s hope for your little ones.

  8. KrisV
    August 29, 2011 at 9:57 am

    My son has a very limited “list” of food he eats. I send him to school with a peanut butter sandwich cut in squares (can’t wait until he gets teased for that (sarcasm)), a bag of Wheat Thins (only unbroken ones!), and two or three graham crackers (also unbroken). He buys milk at school.

    I had hoped that peer pressure would make him want to try what the other kids eat! I keep hoping that pretty soon he’ll hopefully just be hungry enough to try something new!!

  9. dana
    August 29, 2011 at 10:02 am

    My daughter has yet to be diagnosed with ASD, however , she is ADHD and ODD. We also have eating issues. The lunch room is to loud and distracting, they also dont have enough time for her to eat. Luckily this year she has a teacher who will allow her to sit at a table in the back of the room and eat the rest of her lunch or a snack during a quiet time in class. I would have snack time written into the IEP. Its necessary for our children to eat in order to function to the best of their ability!

  10. August 29, 2011 at 10:05 am

    My son doesn’t like to eat either and his adderall he takes makes it even more challenging. His teachers balked at the idea of extra snacks at first, but once they saw how thin he was getting, they agreed with me that he needed them. They would tell me it wasn’t fair to the other students for him to have a snack. So I started sending in snacks for the whole class. And his doctor actually wrote a prescription for him to have protein snacks every 4 hours. I also made a form for them to fill out telling me how much he eats. It is done in fractions, 1/4, 1/2/ or all. All they have to do is check the box. So I finally started finding out how much he ate. They just didn’t want to take the time to write it on their own. I explained to them I have to keep track of his calorie intake. It has been frustrating, but finally he is putting on weight and I know how much he eats.

  11. diane
    August 29, 2011 at 10:05 am

    this coudln’t be more timely. I spent all yesterday afternoon trying to figure out what to put in his freakin’ lunch box! He would buy every day if I could afford it, and he would be happy as a clam. today, i make spaghetti and put it (piping hot) into a tupperware container. I don’t think he will mind eating it cold. I searched a lot of BENTO box ideas. apparently, things like cold pasta, cold hamburgers, etc don’t freak him out, but PB does.

  12. Aneka
    August 29, 2011 at 10:41 am

    I have been packing my son’s lunch for school since bhe was 2. He is now six and going to the 1st grade. I have school lunch down to a science now. I know what my child loves and i try to provide that or as close to it as possible. His lunch is pretty much the same every day. I know that things like pizza and chocolate milk entice him at school and they are some of his favorite things but we have an agreement that he eats what “we” pack. I allow him to help me pick out the things for his lunches and he can choose from a variety of things each morning to include. I know that he may not choose to eat any of it but 98 percent of the time he does. I make sure to include a hearty healthy breakfast, snacks after school, pediasure, a daily children’s vitamin and a good dinner. I make asking what he ate for lunch a part of daily conversation and i also ask if he enjoyed it or not. He feels like a big boy who has some control in his life. I have gotten high praise from his teachers and therapists about how healthy his lunches are but if they had a problem that would just be too bad. I try to do what is best for my child. I am only the expert on him alone. He recently told me that other kids ask him if they can share his lunch with him and that it bothers him. Because he has a problem with communication he doesn’t always know how to respond. I gave him this short phrase to reply “sorry but my mom and I made this special lunch for me only”. It works for now.

  13. Deanna
    August 29, 2011 at 12:07 pm

    My son is a very slow, very picky eater. We keep things simple and send him to school with the same lunch everyday. It works for us, but he usually doesn’t get to finish eating before he gets rounded up for another activity. As a parent, this is frustrating but to ease my anxiety I make sure he eats a healthy and filling breakfast and dinner plus a multivitamin.

  14. Amy Banks
    August 29, 2011 at 1:19 pm

    pedia sure! life saver! literally!

  15. Betsy Becker
    August 29, 2011 at 10:43 pm

    It’s nice to read that most all of you are dealing with the same issues I am. We try to load up our son with high-protein Boost and granola (dry, crunchy) before school. He will eat his special “trail mix” for a snack during class (it’s just chocolate Chex, roasted almonds “with sea salt”, and pumpkin seeds), drinks milk for lunch and whatever crunchy item is not touching anything else on the tray at noon, then has his own box of Triscuits at daycare for after school. He has a very hard time focusing well enough to eat, as he doesn’t have much time for either his snack or his lunch. It took 2 trips to the school nurse before they figured out that he needed extra time to finish what I sent with him, or he’d melt down from his stomach growling. We try to make sure he has a healthy supper each night with plenty of fruits and veggies at home served the way he tolerates them.

  16. Kimberly
    September 2, 2011 at 4:24 pm

    I too struggle with the lunch issue my son is very picky has been since a baby. I too have to pack the same thing everyday when i try to switch something up more healthy then we have stomach issues gas cramps etc. This year will try add or subtract a few things but pb sans will be in there everyday. Hes so picky he knew when the school change the burger meat that he once loved!!! So we had to go to sack lunches i too get a little flack for his luches but im not willing to let him go hungry!!

  17. September 3, 2011 at 1:36 pm

    Does this sound famaliar to anyone???

  18. Yvonne
    September 3, 2011 at 8:46 pm

    I have 2 boys with Autism, we have to get the school lunch menu and highlight the days they’ll have the school lunch and which days they’ll pack a lunch and get them ready the night before, the older one has only wanted to eat ravioli but his teacher is very understanding and let’s him use the microwave in her classroom or the teachers lounge. They’ve been very understanding of my quirky boys. It’s been a great help.

  19. November 13, 2011 at 1:30 pm

    thanks a lot for this great info

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