Wednesday, March 9, 2011

It's okay to spit at the table.

This post may fall under the category of TMI...too much information!  It might make you a little queasy.  It made me queasy just to join my family for dinner tonight. 

There is an activity in my favorite eating aversion book, Just Take A Bite. The activity is about making a "spit bucket".  What in the world is a "spit bucket"?  But really this is ingenious as are many of the activities in the book.  The idea is that children with severe eating aversions due to autism, developmental disabilities, food allergies, or medical issues related to the mechanics of eating, need to take small steps towards accepting new foods.  The steps to eating a new food go something like the following, but please note that even though some of these behaviors sounds comical, this is very serious.  Children with severe food aversions don't even like to sit at the table with new foods.

  1. Screams and refuses to sit at the table when the new food is on his/her dinner plate.
  2. Calmly sits close to the new food. 
  3. Smells the new food.
  4. Touches the new food with a fork or spoon.
  5. Touches or "plays" with the new food with fingers.
  6. Kisses the new food. (our therapist worked hard on this step)
  7. Licks or tastes the new food.
  8. Puts the new food in his/her mouth and then spits it out.
  9. Swallows the new food.
So in relation to step number 8, there needs to be a way for Jillian to spit her food out without making the rest of us sick.  Thus...the spit bucket.  We took the girls to our favorite place to paint pottery and let Jillian pick out her very own spit bucket to decorate any way she desired.  I really wanted something with a lid and luckily, Jillian loved this ice cream cone with a removable ice cream lid.  Perfect for hiding the partially chewed food.

Painting was fun!

Ella painted a mug and wanted to make clear it was just for hot chocolate and she wasn't going to spit anything it her creation.  Good plan!

Tonight we picked up the finished pieces.

It's really unbelievable, but tonight I ate dinner sitting across from Jillian and her ice cream cone spit container.  She was excited!  Her eyes lit up at the mention of trying the rice that was on her plate with the option of immediately spitting it out.  She didn't use it tonight and did not try the rice, but she understands the concept and is excited about it.  For now, that is good enough for me! 


  1. "successive approximations" - That list is brilliant! I think a lot can be applied to breaking up a big, scary task into little steps :) My 8 year old has no medical reason for disliking most textures, but he has always been extremely adverse to many textures (no meat, no potatoes, no sauces). I wish I had used something like that list of 9 steps to get him started sooner. I'm finding he's growing out of it, as he gets a more rational brain.

    I can't say I have ever made a spit bucket with my children, but I love Jillian's choice!

  2. @Kate
    Thanks for the comment! So many picky eaters out there. Glad your son is outgrowing his aversions! Most kids do just give in eventually.

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