When wild man was two, he ate like any normal two year old. We could go out and eat just about anywhere. By the age of two and a half he had stopped eating. Back then we knew something was different. He did not talk like other two year-old’s, he did not make eye contact, he would sit and line cars up for hours, he did not play with others he preferred to be by himself. He is destructive. He can tear through a clean room faster than anyone I know leaving a trail of broken toys and books in his path. Back then we knew but didn’t want to know. We contributed his delays to his unique begin and brought in early intervention workers to help get him caught up. By the age of three we had a diagnosis, he was autistic.
My older two children were what I would call picky eaters. But even they would eat chicken, pizza, and pastas. I have had many people tell me, “If he were mine he would eat what I fix or not eat at all” or “Why don’t you just make him eat.” Autism does not work that way. Wild mans diet consists of Stage two Gerber peas, orange creme yogurt, KFC mash potatoes ,bread sticks, Cheerios, Trix, Pringles honey stix’s, fruit snacks, french fries,peanut butter and chips Dill pickle flavored or cheese flavored. That’s it. He will drink water, apple juice, Kool Aid, and milk. He just turned six. And even though his food choices are limited he is a happy healthy little boy.
I packed his lunch everyday this school year. He ate with the regular kindergarten class and it did not take long for one of the little boys to make fun of him eating stage two peas. Those are for babies are YOU a baby? He came home and said, No eat peas momma I no baby. I called the school to see what happened and was told the story. The teacher talked with the little boy but the damage was already done. And with one child in the class allergic to peanuts wild man’s limited list of foods was now down by two. But we managed and made it through the school year.
For the last few days, he has been on this “Let me made food” kick. He has help cut up vegetables, buttered bread, and tried his hand at making smoothies. He is becoming a fine little chief. If only he would eat what he made. Well yesterday he decided he wanted pizza. We turned on the over and got all the ingredients ready. I keep it simple, pepperoni and cheese. He was so excited. He arranged the pepperoni in straight lines and made sure there was enough cheese to cover all the sauce and crust. He watched it bake while he reminded me it was the longest 15 minutes of his life. When it was done I removed it from the oven so it could cool. That’s when it happened.
HE ASKED FOR A PIECE OF PIZZA!!!!
At first I thought I misunderstood him. I looked at him and asked, Did you say you want a piece of pizza? Yes momma, I want that one (pointing to the square piece perfectly in the middle) Alright then, let me get it for you. Thanks momma, thanks alot. He was all smiles. My husband and I stared at each other. I quickly got everyone’s plates together and told my husband to get a plate for wild man. If he asked for that piece of pizza he was going to get it. My husband placed the plate in front of wild man at the table. He looked at it and then sniffed it. Again he smiled. He looked over at me and asked, Me eat now momma? Yes baby you can eat now. So he touched it, he moved the pepperoni around, he pulled the cheese off, and then he took a bite. And he swallowed. Momma me not like the bread. He said. That’s okay buddy you don’t have to eat the crust. Okay momma thanks. So he sat at the table, picking at the pepperoni and at the cheese. He licked the sauce off the crust and he ate dinner with us. For the first time in over four years all of my kids were at the table eating the same thing….pizza. And it was wonderful. We have had pizza many nights for dinner over the last six years, why he decided last night he would eat it I will never understand, but I am ever so grateful he did.
To most this might not be a big deal. It may sound silly. To us this is huge. For him to be able to try a new food without throwing up is a major accomplishment. For him to sit at the table with us and staying with us for the full dinner is major. The whole night was a miracle. For in that twenty minutes we were just a normal family.
Nothing about autism is normal. Some days are just plain hard, but nights like last night give us hope. Doctors told us he would not talk, yet at five he said his first sentence. We were told he might not walk or run do to injuries that took place before he found his was into our home, but he not only runs he climbs and jumps. When man says you can’t Our God says YES YOU CAN!! It’s all in His precious timing.
Wild man may never eat pizza again, or it could become one of his stable foods, only time will time. It may take another four years before he tries something new. And that’s okay also. For now we will celebrate the small victories because life is about the small victories.
From our beautiful chaos to yours celebrate in all things big and small.