Today my husband and I made a decision concerning our adult autistic
daughter. And that was to put locks on the dry food cabinet and the
Our daughter’s problem has always been an obsession over
certain foods, and, it seems to be a concern for other autistic children
and adults as well (since the refrigerator lock sites all seem to have
links to autism sites).
Our daughter doesn’t seem to obsess over all of the foods she likes
but when she does, she lays it on thick. I mean in inches. Cheese?
She’ll cut slices that, on average, are about 2-3 inches in thickness
accompanied by Miracle Whip which will be another inch or so slathered
onto a poor defenseless cracker. Then there’s cookies, milk, carob
chips, sweet potato chips, etc you get the picture. She is in love with
anything that is Italian in genre, dairy, sweets and carbs, carbs, and
The bad thing is that she is on a low carb/kosher diet. I
suppose that makes her want items that she really shouldn’t have so she
overindulges. If we have bananas, she will sneak into the kitchen when
everyone is asleep and eat half a dozen. Glass of soy milk? She’ll
drink half a carton if not watched. Organic/GF cookies? You had better
take the cookie jar to bed with you.
This is not something that I ever
wanted to do; locking up food, but after years struggling with her over
this, I think the day after Hanukkah really cemented the decision for
us as parents. We had a multi-faith party on the day after Hanukkah and
had 2 dozen candy canes hanging in our living room for decoration. The
following day I went to take down the decorations to notice nary a cane in
sight. When I asked my daughter if she knew what happened to them,
assuming that she might have grabbed one or two for herself, she
announced, “I ate them, I’m sorry,” and continued down the hallway. Upon
asking my other daughter, I discovered she ate them all! 24 canes in 24
hours! It was time to do something and do it quickly. I knew she made
midnights runs but assumed it was a cookie jar run (I only put 4 in at a
time) or a banana. Now I know that her obsession has grown with her age
(she’s 21 now).
What makes matters worse is that we are on a fixed
income and her obsession makes it difficult to keep certain foods in the
house for a month and be able to feed everyone.
Upon finding out that the only thing she could access with the
shelves that held canned foods and dry goods such as beans and
flour….well it wasn’t pretty. Screams, cries, and threats of running
away followed. She’s still angry but now it’s more of a moody teenager
scowling silently at us with an occasional ‘harumph’.
Of course, she’s smart and resourceful and we will just have to wait to see what is next. That is the part I’m afraid of.