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How a Plate Solved Mealtime Woes for a Mom and Her Autistic Son - Dinner with Kids

How a Plate Solved Mealtime Woes for a Mom and Her Autistic Son - Dinner with Kids
From The Kitchn - September 14, 2017

Mealtime used to come with massive amounts of stress and anxiety for Jen Anderson, of Kirkland, Washington. "I dreaded meals to the point where I felt sick to my stomach in anticipation," she says. Her son Levi was diagnosed with autism when he was 3 1/2 years old, and getting him to eat was nearly impossible. "Levi could not stay seated for more than 10 seconds at a time," she says. "He did not recognize the feeling of hunger. And only ate foods that were starchy and unhealthy." Some days, he'd barely eat anything at all.

Of course, Jen and her husband tried everything. They spent thousands of dollars on a board-certified behavioral analyst who would make house calls to work with Levi. "Even she could not get him to eat." They'd make a blanket fort under the table, give him toothpicks instead of a fork, let him eat in front of the television, and anything else they could think of.

It was a painful situation for many reasons. For starters, they worried their son was not getting the nutrients he needed. They also got disapproving comments and looks from people (including friends and family!). They could not go out to eat as a family and Jen even started avoiding other moms and play dates. Jen was at the end of her rope and did not know what to do.

But then, nearly two years ago when Levi was 5 1/2, she found something that changed their lives: a plate.

The plate is simple, yet brilliant: It's a melamine tray that's divided into small compartments and looks like a game board. Parents can portion out food into manageable bites (that wo not touch each other!) and kids get to follow along and end at the finish line, where a special covered treat awaits. It even has a cute nameDinner Winnerand now comes in several themes featuring dinosaurs, pirates, superheroes, and more.

How They Found the Dinner Winner Plate

How the Dinner Winner Plate Went Over

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