You have certain likes and dislikes. You might prefer to use a certain brand of toothpaste. You might enjoy eating a particular name brand of cereal for breakfast.
But what if you only ate that one brand?
What if the manufacturer went out of business? What would you do if you could no longer purchase your favorite brand? You may not spend much time worrying about this kind of scenario, but if you’re autistic or parent of an autistic child the thought of this happening can keep you up at night. Literally.
Being on the spectrum myself, I have to admit I’ve always had an affinity for certain foods. Okay, if I’m being honest, I eat the same thing every day for breakfast. We autistics love routines. Routines are comforting and predictable. That’s probably why we often like very specific types, and sometimes brand names, of food.
My youngest daughter loves macaroni and cheese. I would say she is somewhat of an expert in the fine paring of pasta and cheese. When she was a toddler, she became a mac and cheese critic. Now, at thirteen, her love of the gooey pasta dish is as strong as ever.
Over the years she has turned up her nose to various versions of her favorite food. When she was six years old, I happened to buy a box of Annie’s Organic Macaroni and Cheese. It wasn’t that I was singling out any brand specifically, or that I was trying to be a crunchy, all-natural-loving momma, it just happened to be on sale that week.
Little did I know then what I had done.
After only trying this brand of mac and cheese one time, she was sold on it. She refused to try any other brand. She was wholeheartedly consumed with only Annie’s brand. Now I should mention that because this is an organic brand, it is more expensive. Even on sale it is more expensive than standard brands. I tried not showing her the box and presented her with other brands. Without even knowing what she was eating, she could immediately tell the difference.
Fast forward seven years later, she still only eats one brand of macaroni and cheese. I have no idea what will happen if this company ever goes out of business or stops making her beloved mac and cheese.
Sometimes food preferences are so specific, they can be restrictive.
Let me explain. Some of us will only eat limited types of food. My Annie’s loving daughter? Her main diet includes that brand of mac and cheese, pretzels and feta cheese. She eats feta cheese with everything. I’m glad Costco sells a jumbo container of it because she consumes such large quantities.
It’s not too hard to recognize other spectrum shoppers at the grocery store. We’re the ones mega-buying in bulk. Whether it be ketchup, pickles or even mac and cheese, we never want to accidentally run out of that food.
Today, I am comfortable with my food preferences and my daughter’s too.
At one time, I took it upon myself to try and break my daughter’s need for Annie’s mac and cheese. I figured she would move on to a different brand if I refused to buy her favorite brand. It didn’t take long for me to remember, that we autistics know what we want and don’t just move on. She out and out refused to eat any of the other brands I bought.
She can tell the difference. She knows that Annie’s has the exact amount and type of cheese she likes and she knows the specific texture of the pasta. So, now without question, I buy her cherished Annie’s…plus her favorite pretzels and feta cheese. It isn’t worth making it an issue and causing her stress to try and change her mind. She’s happy and that’s all that matters.
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