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BellaOnline's Autism Spectrum Disorders Editor

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Just Take A Bite - Book Review


The cover of Just Take a Bite is adorable. My nine-year old son has severe autism, is non-verbal and has feeding deficits. For three years now he has been attending feeding therapy.

I purchased Just Take a Bite: Easy, Effective Answers To Food Aversions And Eating Challenges as soon as it was released earlier this year and have since sold it on ebay to another family going through feeding issues with their child on the Autism Spectrum.

Just Take a Bite: Easy, Effective Answers To Food Aversions And Eating Challenges consists of ten chapters, a foreword by Temple Grandin, cue cards, references and a list of websites. There are 28 black and white cue cards. They include sad expression, crab walk,straw drinking and chewing exercises.

The case studies are highlighted in gray throughout the chapters. The ages range from babies through elementary age. Issues covered include steps to create a meal or snack schedule, awareness of movement, limited communication skills, vestibular movement, behavioral factors and visual stimuli.

Each chapter has a gray box with an exercise in eating, which are tips and guidelines for the specific area being discussed. There is a table listing textures with a description, example of foods with this texture and how the child can succeed with these textures.

The chapter covering the stages of sensory development for eating was very informative. This is very similar to what has been utilized in the feeding therapy we attend on a weekly basis. The first stage is acceptance. In Just Take a Bite: Easy, Effective Answers To Food Aversions And Eating Challenges they advise to start with a food diary and work toward the food pyramid, which is listed in the Appendix of the book.

You begin with three new foods to the child. The procedures and materials are all listed for the steps. Lesson four within this first stage is meeting your teeth. Our feeding therapist did this a few years ago where we all had a tooth brush and practiced brushing in front of a mirror. Other lessons within this first stage of acceptance include cookbooks, grocery shopping, field trip to the cafeteria and growing a garden.

Touch is stage two with goals and guidelines addressing painting with food and a rainbow of food. Stage three is smell with five lessons implemented, including scented art supplies, three new scents and yarn to make food jewelry. Stage four is taste with the suggestions of combining familiar tastes with new food items and using ice between tastes of new food. A key factor in this stage is to allow the child to spit out the food by creating a spit bucket. There are guidelines on how to design this bucket and materials needed to play guess the food with a blindfold.

This section ends with stage five and eating new foods. The idea is to use child friendly foods and make eating enjoyable for the resistant eater. Several times over the years at feeding therapy my son was videotaped. These tapes are shown to professionals in seminars. They note the progress my son and others have made over the weeks and months. What I noticed is how my son reacts more playful and cooperative when the video camera is set up. Then there are those times we wish the videocamera had captured a special moment.

It is noted in Just Take a Bite: Easy, Effective Answers To Food Aversions And Eating Challenges that 75% of children on the autism spectrum have food aversions. There are many activities for the preschool aged child to explore with a parent, teacher or therapist. For my household the cue cards were too advanced for my son while the activities were geared for younger children at higher levels than my son.

As a visual learner I enjoyed perusing the tables and charts. It helped me to read the steps and guidelines to know that we were following the same concepts through feeding therapy without even reading Just Take a Bite: Easy, Effective Answers To Food Aversions And Eating Challenges.

My son does like movement during mealtimes, so after he has taken three bites he gets to skip around the room before coming back to the table for another round of tastes. The book also mentions placing the child on a ball so they can bounce between bites of food. In the beginning of my son's therapy we spent many weeks in the playroom using the various swings. The therapist would put cheez whiz or licorice on the tire swing so my son would get accustomed to the textures and smells. Then we moved on to a large bouncy ball, but after a few incidents of being sick from bouncing and spinning too soon after yogurt this practice stopped at my request.

Now we use a board book, deep pressure hugs and skipping as rewards for taking bites. I have also instructed school personnel to not use food as a reward system for my son. The Dietitian is against this practice, plus with his medication and weight gain it is not necessary to add food at additional times.

The chapters in Just Take a Bite: Easy, Effective Answers To Food Aversions And Eating Challenges consist of the following:

1. Who are resistant eaters? - includes assessment tools

2. Oral motor development - age ranges from in utero to 26 months

3. Environmental and Behavior Factors - includes cultural roadblocks

4. Sensory-Based/Motor-Based Problems for Resistant Eaters - visual, tactile and auditory

5. Motor-Based vs Sensory-Based Eating Problems - gagging, nasal reflux, tooth grinding, aspiration

6. Designing and Implementing a Comprehensive Treatment Plan

7. Environment Controls - food jags, supportive mealtime environment

8. Gastrointestinal, Physical and Oral-Motor - postural control

9. Stages of Sensory Eating

10. Recipe for Success - medical factors


The authors of Just Take a Bite: Easy, Effective Answers To Food Aversions And Eating Challenges are Lori Ernsperger, Ph.D, who is an Autism Consultant, and Tania Stegen-Hanson, a Pediatric Occupational Therapist. They advise allowing the child the space to go to a safe area away from the table if a tantrum or behavior occurs.

This book is for those who have children with food issues, not necessarily those wanting to start a specific diet. The tables and charts can be photocopied and the case studies are extremely helpful for parents and therapists.

There are terms used that are part of therapist's vocabulary. If you have received any reports or assessments from an Occupational Therapist you will recognize these terms. There is not a glossary or index included in Just Take a Bite: Easy, Effective Answers To Food Aversions And Eating Challenges. This is perfectly suited for therapists, students studying OT, parents and families with children struggling with food aversions.

Originally published on Epinions

Just Take A Bite: Easy, Effective Answers To Food Aversions And Eating Challenges is available at Amazon.

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Content copyright © 2014 by Bonnie Sayers. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Bonnie Sayers. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Bonnie Sayers for details.

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