There was a time (mercifully brief) when Charlie would only eat chocolate chip cookies. This was back in the spring of 1999: We had just taken him (permanently, though we did not yet know it) out of daycare, where he was known to “carbo load” on biscuits, pancakes, and the like. We were living in St. Paul, Minnesota, and, while Charlie had yet to receive his official diagnosis of autism, Jim and I felt quite certain that this was inevitable and had already begun to read too many books and looks at too many websites. We had soon discovered the gluten-free casein-free diet and, within days, cleared the kitchen of anything with flour or wheat or dairy in it.
Jenny McCarthy‘s recent and widely reported on claims about her son’s “recovery” from autism have put the gluten-free casein-free diet back in the spotlight as an alternative treatment for autism. I have written about our experience with “the diet” before; Charlie has been more or less on the diet since June of 1999. I say “more or less” because, while we used to be dogmatically strict about letting no gluten-y crumb and no taste of pizza past Charlie’s lips, we now see such “food infractions” as not a big deal. Charlie is a good eater (has always been, since he was a baby) and in some ways just the idea of the diet has been helpful, as a way to make sure that he eats more healthy food than not. The occasional bagel or cupcake has had no ill effects, though pizza has not always been kind to Charlie’s stomach (well, maybe it’s the grease; Charlie very rarely has it).
Putting Charlie on the “special diet” almost nine years ago also had another good side-effect: It made it necessary to get Charlie to eat new foods. I’ve outlined the teaching strategy we used to do this. Walking around lower Manhattan last weekend and passing a number of restaurants (into whose windows Charlie’s eyes trailed), Jim and I started to list all the types of food he’s eaten. All told, I count at least 15 different types of ethnic cuisine that Charlie has sample and liked—-so long as rice is involved, he’s game.
But I still suspect that sushi will always hold a special place in Charlie’s stomach. After the jump, the list.
American (what else can I say; McDonald’s, burgers, fries, and of course those Jersey diners)
Philippino (sense a trend? any Asian food will do)
And here’s Charlie finishing a vegetarian burrito with chips and salsa at Qdoba tonight—yes, as his shirt says, life is good.
For more about nutrition and what’s good and what’s kind of not so good to eat, check out Eating Fabulous.