Here are buddies Vincent and Garrett. Both on the autism spectrum, Vincent plays a little higher. They were in school together for years before Glenn and Garrett moved here. As little guys in special ed classes together, later they both were partially mainstreamed into middle school.
They ate lunch together every day in the cafeteria. They never talked much. Garrett still is having trouble talking in the cafeteria. We think they need to, they do not. Who is right?
When I came on the scene, Garrett had very limited eating habits. He would eat mac and cheese, pb and j, pizza, some fast food, and a sobering amount of snacks made of chemicals.
Glenn had his hands full. A single parent with one autistic son and another always in trouble, he did not have the time to deal with eating habits. Two hours was spent getting to and from work, then an eight hour or more work day, domestic activities …it was amazing that he did what he did. He also was the only child of two aging parents who could not take care of themselves. Whew. Experimenting with Garrett’s food weirdness was way down on the list.
I have been successful doing two things with Garrett: I got him to eat, and got him to run.
When first around, Garrett encountered me sauteing garlic and onions on the stove prior to spaghetti sauce or whatever. He was nauseated, and ran to his room. He couldn’t stand the smell. And I know for a fact that great cooks will saute garlic and onions on the stove to fill the space with wonderful aroma, whether those items are in the recipe or not! With work and about two years, he will eat anything now, but he was very self restricted in the early days. Last weekend, the last bugaboo was extinguished. He ate a fried egg at his uncle’s house. Did not say a word. I can now say that he devours ANYTHING. And everything.
No so back in eighth grade. He and Vincent ate mostly silently every day. Garrett ate peanut butter and jelly, tiny carrots, two cookies, juicy juice, and potato chips. Same thing every day. He did this even while he was getting broader at home at dinner.
One morning, no peanut butter. Glenn never let this kind of event happen, but I did. If we did not have several things to buy, waiting until more needs accumulated seemed reasonable. The unbelievable was the result. Garrett took a chicken sandwich to school with mayo and spinach leaves to boot!
Later that day Vincent said, “Chicken?”. Garrett said “Yes”. End of story.
Garrett had a four day weekend last spring and Glenn took him home to visit. They went to his old school to see teachers and friends. The following was Vincent’s reaction to seeing Garrett after maybe eight months here.
Look at the reaction of the teacher in the background. This is huge for two autistic buds!