It’s “Healthy Eating Week” at D’s school this week. We were notified on last week’s newsletters and told there would be different PE exercises every day and discussion regarding healthy foods, much the same initiative as taking place in mainstream primaries from time to time.
Might need a slightly different tactic when dealing with the issue in Special Needs schools.
D came out of school yesterday looking very tired, upset and pale. She was also very hungry. Half her lunchbox was uneaten and one of her snacks still remained. She ate most of the remaining food on the way home.
The one thing I do know about my daughter is if she hasn’t eaten her food, there is usually a good reason. She told me – between meltdowns – that her teacher had told her it was “bad” food and should not be eaten in school. I resisted the urge to go back to school and have it out with the staff but it was very tempting.
The thing about autism is that quite often children lead quite a restricted diet anyway, D always has the same things in her lunchbox (part of the OCD/routine element) and if part of that food routine is taken away, she is not going to want to try alternatives. In fact, certain “healthy” foods make her physically sick just looking at them (sensory element) but that will be another blog topic.
This infuriated me, to think that my 7 year old autistic daughter is being told what she can and can’t eat, when we are restricted to a limited choice of meals, snacks and sandwich fillings anyway.
She didn’t want to talk about it after school but I did say to her during her bathtime chat that your body is like a machine, it will run better on healthy food but the occasional snack/choc is okay. You read stories of primary school children having eating disorders from a very early age due to a comment at school, there is no way I am letting that happen to D, she has enough to battle with!
She had a lot of reluctance about going to school today.
I wrote a note in her home-school diary and had a chat to the TA this morning, basically saying that I did not want food described as “bad” and that I expected her to be allowed to eat what was in her lunchbox and for them to remember that they are dealing with special needs children here, who if they are told a certain food is “bad” for them, may reject all foods and we have a potential eating disorder on our hands. Once D had heard me talking to the TA and I had read her the diary note, she was happy to go into class.
For those of you who may think I am over-reacting, my mum has had a lifetime of “being good” and then “being bad” food wise and is in every poor health as a result, both mentally and physically.
As said above, I will do a blog about the foods D is restricted to on both a sensory and OCD element but I thought this warranted a separate blog. It will certainly be something I will be revisiting at parents evening, that, yes roll out the same initiatives as in mainstream but tailor it to your special needs class and definitely DO NOT describe food groups as “bad”.