Choosing healthy snacks for your autistic children to make at home is a wonderful way to save money, expose your children to new flavors, and ensure they receive the nutrients they need. Here are five easy, nutrient-dense snack recipes to make for your neurodivergent child.
Did you know autistic people require more energy?
Napping isn’t uncommon for autistic adults, which means your autistic teen’s napping habit is normal. However, if your autistic child seems abnormally sleepy, they might not be consuming enough energy (or have an eating disorder).
You might have heard of energy as “calories” from diet culture, but it ultimately serves the same purpose. Autistic people tend to graze frequently and consume fewer meals, which is why snacks are so important.
Healthy snacks for children with autism
These recipes were chosen because they are:
- Versatile. Remove the crunchy aspects if your child prefers a chewy texture, or add more of what they love.
- Simple. Because no one wants to spend hours making a snack their autistic child might adopt as a new samefood or safefood.
- Inexpensive. I believe snack recipes should be worth making yourself, i.e. NOT costing more than snack cakes, or being something I’d rather buy regardless of the preservatives (I’m mid-key allergic to those).
- Nutritional. Food doesn’t have morals; it’s not neither good or bad, it’s just food. However, some food is more nutritional than others, and that’s the focus here.
- Accessible. Are the ingredients generally accessible, or do they require you to shop at specialty stores? (And if so, could they be omitted?)
I love the concept of this puffed rice granola. It’s perfect for yogurt or adding as a breakfast side. My version will have a small amount of hemp seeds, since I cannot currently tolerate seeds due to sensitive teeth.
Omit the seeds if your child doesn’t like their crunch. If you’re not sure, split the batch so one half doesn’t have seeds and the other does. Offer both, and allow your child to mix the batch if they want.
Don’t do it for them. Give your child a spatula or teach them how to pour them into containers they can shake to mix. This teaches them how to accommodate themselves and explore their own preferences. It also gives them autonomy and encourages them to try new things. This is true for all children, not just neurodivergent children.
If you have a dehydrator (even in the form of an air fryer add-on), now’s the time to embrace the colors of the rainbow. You can also just make the apples without adding food coloring.
I can totally see these being perfect for parties or general snacks. Since there are so many different natural food coloring options, you could make these in your child’s favorite colors or in theme with a book you read together.
Mostly, I love how the colorful dried apple slices look like candy or Fruity Pebbles cereal.
The only complicated part of this recipe might be the shapes, and I think the shapes part could be a fun activity to do with your autistic child. I love Goldfish, but I’m not interested in spending $4 on a small package I’m going to swallow in less than an hour because they’re a sensory goldmine.
If your kiddo is also obsessed, give this recipe a try. I like how they don’t have yeast, because I’m allergic.
P.S. I find butter easier to grate when using a rotary grater, even if it’s made for cheese.
Invite your child to explore fruits of all colors by assembling these fruit skewers. For autistic children not interested in certain textures, allow open-ended skewer creations.
Letting them create their own color combos keeps their autonomy with them and allows them to make decisions on their own.
Children who are free to explore foods (especially fruits) as they best see fit tend to be more open to try other foods. Why is it that we allow babies to explore with their mouths and spit things they don’t like out, but we don’t accept this from autistic children? (Neurotypical children and adults often have this freedom, no question.)
Are your kids frequently reaching for popsicles or ice cream? These mango coconut popsicles only require five ingredients, use natural sweetness, and amount to 12 popsicles. I love fruit popsicles, but I struggle to find store-bought ones that meet my needs without tasting weird or having odd textures.
Making your own popsicles gives you more control over the consistency and flavors. Generally speaking, you can substitute one fruit for the other or include less of a fruit and more of the base. The recipes are quite forgiving — just keep note of alterations so you don’t wind up with a total hit and no clue how to remake it.
Which of these recipes will you try with your kids? Share in the comments below.
More Easy Recipes for Autism, Picky Eaters and Sensory Issues
10 Easy Recipes for Autistic Adults (Your child will like these recipes, too.)
8 Easy Dinner Recipes for Autistic Children (and adults)
10 Simple Breakfast Recipes for Autistic Children (and adults)
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Autism Nutrition Library – Want more help with recipes for the autistic person in your life? Check out this library of resources by a Registered Dietician (RD) and autism expert.