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From Waffle Makers to Batman Toasters: Fun Eating Motivators When There is a Sensory Sensitivity

Updated: Apr 7

By Karen Kaplan, MS

If you are a parent, teacher, speech therapist, an individual on the autism spectrum, or a person with sensory sensitivity or a intellectual disability, you know people interact with cooking and eating differently.

Here are some of the differences you are probably aware of:

  • Displeasure with food textures

  • Only like particular tastes or smells of food

  • Prefers very specific colors of foods

  • Has chewing and/or swallowing problems

  • Has a hard time sitting through a family meal

  • Does not want to try new foods

  • Refuses to touch certain foods or specific eating or cooking utensils

  • Has stomach-related problems (diarrhea, constipation, or acid reflux)

You may have heard some of the advice below to address these differences. All of us need to work on eating healthily so we can sleep well and have enough energy to live our day, learn, problem-solve well, and, most of all, handle stressors that occur.

Perhaps you have been advised to try:


So, if you have not tried some of the strategies above to reduce eating and cooking sensitivities, try them. Discovering motivations can lead you to find new ways to expand and grow.

For free resources on managing diagnoses, mobility, and accessibility support, self-advocacy, personal rights, educational rights, occupational therapy, mental health support, schools and camps, transitioning to adulthood, job opportunities, financial planning, supporting the family/caretakers, subscribe to Exceptional Needs Today. Subscribing to our award-winning e-magazine is free, and it enables us to connect with more readers, helping us support the special needs community more effectively. We publish a new issue every quarter - delivered straight to your email.

Karen Kaplan, MS, is a native San Franciscan. She completed her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona, in speech pathology and audiology. She minored in special education and obtained her speech therapist and special education credentials in California. Karen worked as a speech therapist for schools for 20 years before opening her own residential and education program for students with autism. She worked in credential programs at Sacramento State University as well as UC Davis and spent 20 years directing private schools for those with autism and similar learning challenges.


Karen founded a non-profit, Offerings, which helps cultures globally to understand those with developmental challenges. For seven years, she founded and facilitated an autism lecture series and resource fair in Northern California. Karen still facilitates an annual Autism Awesomeness event. She is currently consulting, helping families, schools, and centers for children, teens, and adults. Karen has authored three books: Reach Me Teach Me: A Public School Program for the Autistic Child; A Handbook for Teachers and Administrators, On the Yellow Brick Road: My Search for Home and Hope for the Child with Autism, and Typewriting to Heaven… and Back: Conversations with My Dad on Death, Afterlife and Living  (which is not about autism but about having important conversations with those we love).


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