My son’s sensory lunchbox

I was a little nervous when asked by my friend, Kylie from Kidgredients, to write a post about my son’s typical lunchbox for her “Don’t judge my lunch” series.

My son’s lunch is not pretty or healthy. And to be honest, I’m not altogether proud of everything that I put in there.

I was (and still am) worried about being judged.

But as I thought more about it, I realised there was a very good reason that his lunchbox has evolved the way it has.

It may not be considered healthy, beautiful, practical or tasty by most standards. But it does meet his sensory needs, which is equally important for anyone on the autism spectrum.

Many autism parents struggle with getting their kids to eat anything at all, let alone food that is healthy.

Like many other kids with autism, my son prefers predictable and bland food – chicken nuggets, potato chips, macaroni & cheese, pies and cheese pizza being his preferred meals.

So it’s no surprise that these preferences also play a big role in the look of his lunchbox too.

But the make up of his lunch is also determined by his sensory needs.

Gilbert is under-sensitive which means that he tends to seek more sensory input than most people. He seeks deep pressure, loves spinning and jumping and has a very high pain threshold (which has caused a few issues for us all in the past!)

I have found over the years that providing him with food with extra crunch helps give his mouth and oral sensory system a workout which, in turn, helps keep him calm. This meets some of his extra sensory needs, due to his under-sensitivity, and helps keep him on track during the day.

My son’s lunchbox may look highly processed, predictable and not really that healthy. But take a closer look and you’ll see that everything in his lunchbox has a purpose. Even if it’s sole purpose is to be a treat.

The sensory lunchbox -

Check out my son’s lunch box over at Kidgredients

And tell me – do you ever pack a sensory lunchbox too?

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19 Responses

  1. Kylie says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your lunch Kirsty, it has really resonated with my readers and I’m very glad to have opened my Don’t Judge My Lunch Series with such a fabulous post.

  2. Julie says:

    All lovely and crunchy and twisty for him. I like a good looking lunch box. I look forward to putting little notes in when my daughter can read.

  3. How interesting. We’ve had what should go in our lunch boxes dictated by the schools over the years, up until high school. My girls have packed their own lunch boxes since about year 2 but we tend to have fairly limited choices on hand. LOL
    Raychael Case recently posted..Karvan Coffee All-In-One Kick-Starter Smoothie

  4. My kids pack their own lunches. They like mix of thing – healthy and not so healthy. It’s about balance and if they’ll eat it, I’m happy 🙂
    Kell @ All Mum Said recently posted..An Easy How To Guide: Self-care For Busy Mums

  5. I like that term – sensory lunch box. I’d never thought of a lunch box in those terms before.

  6. My kids pack their own and they aren’t on the spectrum but still have a mix of healthy and treat foods. I think the lunch shaming fad needs to stop. You pack what suits your child best, simple as that!

  7. I am not against treat foods so no judgement from me ever there. I tend to pack all healthy and will include something home baked or store bought when I am pushed for time. Then on the last day of term, it’s anything goes!

  8. Vanessa says:

    Fascinating mix of foods – is eating out hard with those kinds of sensory needs too?
    Vanessa recently posted..Time Management – Or How I Get Shit Done As A Blogger

  9. Sadly I still make my kids lunch ( they are old enough to do their own) so usually salad sandwich fruit and snack.

  10. I still make my children’s lunches, although they have a fair bit of input. It usually includes a sandwich or wrap, fruit and veg, and homemade or storemade treat or two. Everything in moderation I say.

  11. Corrin says:

    I pack my son a sensory lunchbox depending on what he will be doing. If I know he will be in a situation that makes him angry/anxious/ frustrated the I will pack him:
    Carrot sticks
    Fruit chews
    Things that take effort to eat, slowing his breathing and in turn calming him.

    If he is feeling sad, I would pack him soft foods:
    Rock melon

    It’s helping when I can’t be there to help him through it.

    • Kirsty says:

      It’s so hard letting them go for the day and knowing you won’t be there to support them through it. I really like the idea of packing different items depending on circumstance – that’s a really good way to be able to help when you can’t be there.

  12. I find it really hard to pack lunches for their teen. The particularly sensory one hates bread and sandwiches, won’t eat anything like meat, pasta or egg because he is particular about food temperatures and ‘it might be off by lunchtime’, doesn’t eat anything that has been frozen and defrosted (so no packing pre-baked and frozen muffins etc), and doesn’t like things like saos either. We’ve experimented with soup, but mostly he takes a mix of food that I’m sure his teachers would think are unhealthy. Often chips, crackers like shapes, beef jerky, dry cereal, and muesli bars. He also won’t eat fruit at school in case it gets spoiled, although he’ll eat those small containers. He has high energy needs so it’s difficult and I dread what his teachers must think of me. But – at least he’s eating! To make up for it, I make sure he has a good breakfast and both kids usually have a ‘first dinner’ straight after school (as they don’t like biscuits, cakes etc), followed by a real dinner later. It’s quite exhausting.

    • Kirsty says:

      I feel your pain. My son’s lunchbox must be unhealthy compared to others but at least he’s eating! I know his dried pasta has already become a point of interest with the teachers in social group (where he spends his break times) but, as long as it’s helping him maintain some form of calm at school, I’ll keep packing it.

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