AAM - #Autism Guest Post - Tastes Like Chicken

I am so pleased that Frances from My Name Is Not Autism is back with another guest post for #Autism Awareness Month.  I love her sense of humor and her willingness to share her life with us! 

Tastes Like Chicken

Tonight I made my 12 year-old autistic son cry due to what I decided to make for dinner.  

It was supposed to be special – just for Sean.

Oh, indeed it was…awfully special (pun intended).

Sean doesn’t like chicken breasts.  He loves legs.  Don’t know why.  He just does.  My normal meal plan consists of baked chicken breasts and rice.  Half the time I will give Sean a pass and make him a separate meal.  Other times, when I am in my “you get what you get and you don’t throw a fit” mode, I insist that my food-texture-sensitive son at least eat the chicken.

This week I decided to throw my semi-health-conscious menu out and make the children not only tater tots and French fries (baked… couldn’t be that wild and crazy!) but fried chicken as well.  I had chicken breasts for the rest of the family and made a note for the grocery store to pick up some legs for Sean.  I bought a value-pack because I was absolutely certain that this dinner was going to be a hit.

The legs were huge and fresh.  Perfect.

The making of the dinner went as planned and the kids sat down to eat.  The chicken and the “crunch” and color of the crust were nearly info-commercial worthy. 

Sean took one look at his plate and said, “I thought we were having fried chicken.”

“Yes, Sean.  This is fried chicken.”

“I thought it was going to be from Jewel.”

To this my husband Rich replied, “Technically, it is.  We bought it at Jewel and we fried it.”

“No, I thought it was going to be from Jewel’s deli.”

We throw in the towel knowing we can’t win this exchange.

Sean then took a few bites.  I could see the scowl on his face.  He clearly was not enjoying it.  I gave him a few minutes to try and muster through.

He complained it was too juicy. 

I cut it off the bone and tried to dry the meat with a paper towel.

I succeeded in only making a mess and now the chicken looked truly disgusting.

Sean tried to please me.  He took another bite and I saw the tears begin to well.  I got out of my chair and walked over to him.  I stood over my son and put my arms around him, resting my cheek on top of his head.

Oh, how far my Sean has come.  Years ago he would have melted down right there at the table.  He would have gagged.  He would have cried openly.

Now my son was trying to please me… make me happy.  He was hiding his face and letting my shirt catch his tears.

“Sean, do you want a hot dog?”

He nodded his head and I could feel the relief as his body relaxed.

Tonight, the food may have been a major failure, but dinner - and Sean’s attempt to cope - could not have been more successful.

Frances Lehning is a married mother of three children living in the northwest suburbs outside of Chicago, Illinois.  Her twelve-year-old son Sean was diagnosed with Autism at the end of 1st grade.  Frances also has two daughters – 11 year-old Carissa and 5 year-old Ashley.  She is the author of the blog, My Name Is Not Autism, at www.mynameisnotautism.blogspot.com.  In her posts she writes candidly of the triumphs and challenges, as well as her own internal struggles, as she helps her son navigate his world.