"There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things."

~ Niccolo Machiavelli, historian and writer

Thursday, March 20, 2008

The Food Game - N.S. Woman Develops Book To Improve Eating Habits Of Autistic Kids

Jean Nicol, a [former?] resource teacher in the Chignecto-Central Regional School Board (who apparently has a degree in nutrition and has spent 25 years working with autistic children) has has created a meal-planning tool to help autistic children overcome fussy eating habits.

It's called The Eating Game (Get Awesome Meals Everyday).

Many children with autism will fixate on a few types of food and refuse to eat anything else, Nicol explained in an interview with CBC News, a tendency that frustrates and worries parents who want their children to eat healthy meals. So starting with a child who would only eat two types of food, Ms. Nicol began by putting pictures of food from Canada's Food Guide in a three-ring binder, and then letting him choose his snacks and meals from the pictures. After he had done so, he would place the picture of his chosen food on a grid on the family fridge.

This meal-planning system turned into The Eating Game, with children choosing their foods and putting the velcro-backed pictures on a colour-coded guide to ensure they're meeting food guide recommendations. The method is based on Nicol's theory that it's not the food's taste or texture that makes autistic children fussy, but a need for routine. That and the fact that it gives these kids some of the control they feel they are lacking in their environment.

And that first child, Ethan, who led to the start of this program? His mom, Shirley Hillier, said the improvement in her son has been "huge" and she gives a lot of the credit for Ethan gaining weight to The Eating Game.
"He liked hot dogs and rice, and he would have eaten that breakfast, dinner, supper and snack," she said, explaining that now "I'd say he's eating over a hundred new foods."

Ethan agreed, adding, "I like all the foods in the whole wide world," citing his latest favourites as macaroni and garlic fingers.
The first edition of the book went on sale in November and it seems quite popular. Since then Ms. Nicol has launched her own business, EyeCan Creations, and contracted out the manufacturing to Sackville, N.S.-based Anchor Industries, where 40 mentally challenged employees cut out and assemble the books.

The second edition sells for $50 and features pictures of food drawn by a local artist.

Although this post is by no means a personal recommendation, I have been provided with a copy of the order form. So if you think you might be interested, leave a comment or drop me an email (using the Profile link) and I will send you a copy.


1 comment:

doorkeeper said...

Stumbled onto this from your side panel, and will transmit it to my group--looks interesting!
Thanks! d