If food ever bothers me, it’s usually because of the texture. Tomato seeds are a good example. It isn’t that I mind the seeds themselves, but the gunk surrounding them is disgusting to me, like cold phlegm.
As a child, I always wanted to scoop out the gunk. But I never did so, because it felt wasteful to discard something that everyone else treated as food.
I vowed to myself that when I grew up, and was able to buy my own tomatoes with my own money, I would remove all the gross parts and only eat the thick, red, juicy parts.
The first time I did so, it felt like a coming of age. It meant so much more to me than just a tasty tomato – it symbolized the freedom to act on my own sensory preferences.
The thing is, I probably had more of that freedom as a child than I realized. If I’d explained how much I disliked tomato seeds, I’m sure my parents would have let me remove them.
But little autistic girls are often more conscientious than other kids about following rules and doing what’s expected of us. We don’t even consider the possibility that a rule may be flexible.
Teach autistic kids that not all requirements are set in stone. Teach us that it’s okay to ask if a rule can be bent.