You can jazz up snack time by encouraging individuals of all ages who are diagnosed with autism to mix up their own snack mixes at the beginning of the week. They can put their own hand-selected mix in small, snack-sized ziplock bags and keep them handy for road trips, school lunches, work breaks, or t.v.snacks. Here are some ideas to get you started. Don’t forget to take into consideration individual allergies and specialized dietary needs.
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SPECIFIC STRATEGY The key to a successful snack mix is to have a variety of healthy, bite-sized tidbits that take special dietary needs into consideration. Fortunately, grocery stores are stocking snacks in a large variety of textures, sizes, and tastes, so it is easier to select five or ten items that can be mixed together for a customized snack. Just give your “snack chef” a mixing bowl or a baking pan and put out a variety of ingredients in small bowls. After he washes his hands, the chef can use a small measuring cup or large spoon to scoop up anything he wants into the mixing pan. After getting just the right combination and scrambling the ingredients together with his hands or a soft spatula, he can scoop the mixture into several small snack-sized ziplock bags. Because variety is the spice of life, your chef will probably will want to make several different combinations for the week.
If possible, let your chef go to the store and select his own ingredients. Try some of these snack-sized tidbits for ingredients in your snack factory:
+ almonds, cashews, peanuts, pecans, macadamia nuts (note: a wide selection of roasted, no-salt nuts is available now in many grocery stores)
+ corn nuts, popcorn, dry Ramen noodles, shoestring potatoes, crunchy Chinese noodles
+ raisins, golden raisins, dried cranberries, dried cherries, dried apricots, banana chips, dried apples, dried pineapple chunks
+ snack-sized crackers (the selection of small, bite-sized crackers that are baked and lower in salt is growing), and low-salt corn chips
+ mini-pretzels, flavored pretzels, square butter pretzels
+ Chex, mini-shredded wheat, Honey Grahams, Crispix, and other crunchy cereal squares
+ animal crackers, ginger snaps, vanilla wafers, and other small, non-sticky cookies
+ (in limited quantities) M&Ms, red hots, miniature marshmallows
Just help your chef explore a wide variety of textures and tastes in his snack factory.
NOTE TO LISTENERS AND READERS: I am Cathy Knoll, a board certified music therapist and long-time friend of many folks with autism. At FAQautism.com we are committed to providing free, practical, everyday tips for making life better for people with autism. You can click on a button to send me an email with your thoughts or challenging situations or innovative solutions. Check out our website for a wealth of ideas and a glimpse into the world of autism. www.FAQautism.com