As a parent, you’ve probably dealt with your fair share of food-related temper tantrums.
Whether your toddler refused to try something new, or they simply decided they didn’t like chicken nuggets on Sundays, you likely have “fond” memories from that stage of parenthood.
But children with autism tend to have more complex picky eating habits that can make mealtimes a constant challenge.
Children on the autism spectrum can deal with sensory issues around food, having a strong preference for, or aversion to, foods of certain textures. They may not like some textures mixed together, and many children with autism are very specific in how they like their food presented.
One Texas mom knows all about picky eating and autism. Marlee Olivarez is the mom of 8-year-old Matthew, who doesn’t like his foods to touch each other on his plate.
When Marlee took Matthew for a treat at a Texas Chick-fil-A, she hoped they’d accommodate his needs.
She ordered a Hash Brown Scramble Bowl for Matthew, asking if the ingredients could be separated for her son – and the staff were more than happy to help.
Marlee was so impressed with her experience that she shared her story on Facebook, writing:
“*Autism Awareness Post*
Today at Chick-fil-A, Matthew wanted a breakfast bowl that has everything mixed together. With the different textures, he asked if they can separate the ingredients (egg, chicken, hash browns, & cheese) because he doesn’t like his food to touch each other and he doesn’t like the cheese melted a certain way. Of course, Chick-fil-A gladly did it.”
Continuing, Marlee explained that she had a wait at the drive-thru window to pay because the staff were taking time to separate everything. That’s when the manager approached. Marlee recalled in her post:
“The manager comes up and says “Out of the many years I’ve been working for Chick-fil-A, I have never heard or seen anyone ask for this item separated. I’m curious, is there a reason why?””
That, to Marlee, was a “perfect time” for her to spread awareness about how a child with ASD’s “mind and preferences” work. She wrote:
“I explained to him why & he was so glad I shared that tid bit. His response “I am so glad you shed some light to me and the employees today and thank you all so much for coming. Please do not hesitate to ask for it like this again”.”
She finished by thanking Chick-fil-A Edinburg for “politely asking and understanding something someone might see as annoying or inconvenient and making Matthew his breakfast in a way that he would eat it and not have an overload with the different textures.”
Marlee’s post ended up gaining traction on Facebook, with over 7K shares and 7K reactions.
She hadn’t just spread awareness of autism – she’d also reminded other parents of autistic picky eaters that they aren’t alone.
In a follow-up comment beneath the post, she wrote:
“To everyone who has contributed in some capacity to this post….THANK YOU!”
She added that awareness is extremely important, and promised to continue to spread the word about autism for her son and everyone else who has an ASD diagnosis.
You can check out Marlee’s original Facebook post just below.
Please SHARE this with your friends and family.
*Autism Awareness Post*
Today at Chick-fil-A, Matthew wanted a breakfast bowl that has everything mixed together. With…