Erin Lombard
Expert Name: Erin Lombard
Expert Title: Erin Lombard
Company Name:  Step by Step Academy
Company URL: www.stepbystepacademy.org
Short Bio: Erin Lombard is a Board Certified Bahavior Analyst and a certified Special Education educator currently teaching graduate level Positive Bahavior Support courses at Northern Arizona University. She holds an undergraduate degree in Child and Adolescent Studies and a master’s degree in Special Education obtained in California State University and University of North Texas respectively. She is currently working on her Ph.D. in Psychology at Capella University.

What’s for Dinner? 3 Easy Tips for Mealtime Success

Mealtime can be such a struggle for any picky eater. But when that picky eater also has autism, challenging may be an understatement! Read the following guidelines and hopefully your next meal will be successful.

1.    Follow a regular schedule.

Many children with autism thrive on routine. Try to keep daily schedules relatively the same every day. This includes eating around the same time every day. This also includes eating at the same space for meals at home. For some children this may also include using the same special dishes and utensils.*

*If this is the case, once your child is eating with less resistance, you will want to offer variety in dishes and utensils, to generalize to different feeding items. Otherwise, your child may be very resistant to any other mealtime utensils.


2.    Focus your energy on mini goals!

Instead of waiting for your child to finish an entire portion of peas, for every bite taken, provide praise for their good efforts! If a child is particularly resistant, keep a small bowl of a favorite fruit or healthy dessert, and provide a spoonful or “dessert” for each bite taken.

To avoid this becoming an expectation at every bite, once a child is readily eating a bite of food, require the child to take two bites before their spoonful of dessert. Then three bites, four bites, etc….

3.    Dips please!

Sometimes food just tastes better with ranch or nacho cheese! Provide a small ramekin of your child’s favorite dipping sauce and allow them to dip away their broccoli, chicken, or potatoes. Make sure that the sauce is being used only for dipping real food. Do not allow your child to just eat the sauce directly from the ramekin. However, once the child has finished the entire meal, finger dipping can be a very powerful reward!