Sunday, January 28, 2007

Social Stories about the GF/CF Diet

Pamela started a gluten-free, casein-free diet back in October 1995. We did not go out much, and we all ate the same food for the first year. It was pricey, so eventually the rest of us ate typical food while Pamela ate her special food. I made our food look the same: we all ate the same meat, sauce, veggies; the only difference was the pasta. She cooperated with her diet very well.

When we started going to a homeschool cooperative, Pamela’s cooperation fell apart. All of these kids were eating yummy-looking things before her very eyes, and she wanted to be like them. Pamela started sneaking these foods by grabbing them off plates. I even got her eating off a plate from the trash. I realized I had never properly explained her diet. I wrote a series of social stories and compared her food to commercials (she liked ads and jingles). The information helped because she started asking me if something had wheat before trying it. We saw no more rebellion--absolute cooperation and obedience once she understood why avoiding wheat was so important.

Now, over ten years into the diet, she knows to look for gluten-free and casein-free on the labels! She knows what foods in the house are safe and fixes her own snacks. All it was took was three stories (not commands or rules, but explanations). While I do not encourage you to use these stories, they are a model to get you started. We have the greatest success when we incorporate Pamela's interests into it (in this case, commercials).

Story 1: We Need to Figure Out . . . Why Should I Eat Special Cereals?

I am a girl named Pamela.

Sometimes I eat cereal. I watch TV commercials about cereals like Rice Krispies and Cocoa Pebbles. These cereals are at stores like Wal-Mart and Giant Eagle. But, Mommy usually does not buy Rice Krispies and Cocoa Pebbles for me. Some people eat Rice Krispies and Cocoa Pebbles. Daddy eats All Bran. These cereals have lots of wheat. Some people feel good when they eat wheat.

Wheat may make me feel silly. Sometimes it makes me pee in my pants and wet my bed. It even makes me feel itchy on my arms and legs. It's very hard to talk when I eat wheat.

I usually eat Mesa Sunrise, a special cereal from the health food store. It's just like Frosted Flakes. Mommy buys Mesa Sunrise because it has no wheat. Mommy wants me to eat Mesa Sunrise because it has no wheat. When I eat cereal with no wheat, I usually feel good.

I will try to eat cereal that has no wheat. It's a good idea to let other people eat Rice Krispies, Cocoa Pebbles and All Bran.

Story 2: We Need to Figure Out . . . How Are My Foods Just Like TV?

I watch TV commercials about interesting foods, but I should not eat wheat. Wheat makes me feel itchy and silly. Mommy makes special foods with no wheat, just like food on TV.

For breakfast, we eat Puffed Rice, Mesa Sunrise, egg rice cakes and fruit pudding, just like Rice Krispies, Frosted Flakes, Eggo Waffles and Jello Pudding. For lunch, we eat hot dog soup, corn noodles and fried rice, just like Campbell’s soup, Kraft Macaroni and Cheese and Rice A Roni. For dinner, we eat rice lasagna, tacos and hot dog soup, just like Hot Pockets, Taco Bell and Campbell’s soup. For snack, we eat Knox Blox, Pamela's Cookies and fruity shakes, just like Jello Jigglers, Chip Ahoy and ice cream.

Other people feel good when they eat wheat. That is okay. I should let other people eat foods like the ones on TV.

Mommy wants me to feel good and stay healthy. She spends extra time cooking special foods for me because she loves me. It's a good idea to only eat food Mommy makes for me.

Story 3: We Need to Figure Out . . . How Do I Eat Food with Homeschool Kids?

We do many special things with homeschoolers. On many Tuesdays, we go to the co-op where we do art. On some Tuesday nights, we have meetings with special things for children to do. On some Thursdays, we play together at the park. Sometimes, we have special events like the Spell-A-Thon or Medieval Feast.

We usually eat food with the homeschoolers. The mothers help children get their food. Then the children sit at the table and eat their food. If they are hungry, they usually ask for more food. Their mothers help them get more food from the food table. When they are finished, they try to put their dirty paper plates, cups and napkins in the trash.

Sometimes I eat the same food as other children: fruits, popcorn, chips and cabbage soup. Sometimes Mommy brings special foods for me because wheat and milk make me sick: cookies, noodles and French fries. It's not a good idea to take food off other children's plate. If I am hungry, Mommy will be happy to give me more healthy food. I will try to tell Mommy, "I want more food."

The trash has dirty food. Sometimes dirty food has bugs in them that will make people sick and throw up. People can be killed when they eat dirty food. It's not a good idea to eat food from the trash. If I am hungry, Mommy will be happy to give me more healthy food. I will try to tell Mommy, "I want more food."

Mommy loves me very much. Mommy wants me to eat healthy food. Healthy food helps me do fun thinks like draw, paint and sing. Healthy food does not make me sick. Mommy can help me find healthy food when I am hungry. If I am hungry, Mommy will be happy to give me more healthy food. I will try to tell Mommy, "I want more food."


Mama Squirrel said...

Tammy, this post is another great illustration of masterly inactivity (your post on CMSeries): you gave your daughter the understanding of "why" (she didn't like the unpleasant side effects of eating wheat) and showed her some ways to cope with her restrictions (reminding her to ask for more if she wanted it); but the control went into her hands and that's what made it work.

walking said...

Mama squirrel, you just "wowwed" me! I have never thought of social stories as masterly inactivity! You have got the wheels in my head spinning . . .

I have never felt comfortable about using applied behavioral analysis for behavior, and now I know exactly why! ABA is about as far from masterly inactivity as one can get. With behaviorism, you analyze a behavior (antecedents, behavior, and consequences). You then alter the stimuli for the behavior and the consequences to change the behavior. You practice the new behavior in a series of drills. This technique has many nuances, but, in a nutshell, it is highly teacher/parent directed!

I have always gravitated toward social stories because they give Pamela information and let her make more informed decisions, which usually improves her behavior. How? I have directed her attention to something overlooked previously and increased her understanding.

Thanks for waking up my brain so early on a Saturday morning!

OhanaTribe said...

Cocoa Pebbles do not contain any wheat. They are gfcf. Surprised me, too!!

walking said...

I wrote those stories in 1998. I think there was some question about wheat starch added to keep them from sticking! Of course, now she can eat them! LOL!!!!!