April is National Autism Awareness Month in America, & April 2nd is World Autism Awareness Day. Pickle calls it Awesome Autism Day :) I packed him an awesome autism lunch with a special message:
I used tiny alphabet, heart, & puzzle piece shaped cookie cutters to say "I love you to pieces" with his peanut butter sandwich, & filled the heart shape with cupcake sprinkles in the colours of the Autism Awareness ribbon. I froze some yogurt in a puzzle piece mold & nestled a piece in some plain yogurt - it holds it shape pretty well as it thaws. And I topped one of his favourite oatmeal muffins with some blue cupcake sprinkles - they're meant to be flowers but I think they look kind of like puzzle pieces :)
If you aren't a regular BentOnBetterLunches reader, you might be thinking: Cute lunch, but so nutritionally unbalanced! Maybe you even want to ask: Where are the fruits & vegetables? The answer most days is: On his dinner plate, pureed in pizza sauce. Rarely in his lunch box. Why not? Pickle has autism, & like many kids with ASDs, he takes picky eating to an extreme.
The reasons for this are as diverse as the kids themselves. Pickle has difficulty with food textures*. Graduating from purees to solids was a slow process that took patience, & help from his speech-language pathologist. And he still prefers softer solids - like peanut butter sandwiches :)
But a peanut butter sandwich every day ?!Autism challenges us daily, turning simple tasks into a battle, so we try to choose our conflicts carefully. Pickle's diet is just not something worth fighting over. If he wants to have the same thing for lunch every day, that's okay. I personally find it boring, but he seems to find it reassuring*. So, to make packing the same thing every day less tedious, fun even, I challenged myself to make his sandwiches as many different ways as I could, & set a goal of 101 - and I did it! See all 101 peanut butter sandwiches here :)
I like to think that Pickle's lunches are something he looks forward to during his school day. He loves to learn, but autism can make some aspects of going to school difficult. Sitting still, working quietly, & transitioning from one subject to another take a lot of effort for him, & the noise & crowds at recess & lunch can be overwhelming. A familiar lunch is comforting :)
Pickle's Autism Awareness lunch is packed in our new Bentology containers. If the bento box design looks familiar, that's because Bentology is the evolution of one of our longtime favourite brands, Laptop Lunches! Bonus - we already had a spork that matches the new turquoise coloured lids :) And last but never least, I tucked in a Lunchbox Love note. I can always find one with the perfect sentiment ♥
* Sensory Processing Disorder has a higher prevalence among children with Autism Spectrum Disorders
* Many people with autism have a strong preference for routines and sameness. - Autism, routines, & resistance to change.