Knives and forks

Eating at our house is always a fraught with danger kind of affair.

When Poss was younger, I literally used to dread it. Every night it would end in tears, me covered in whatever it was I had dished up to her.

Her food issues are wide ranging, and the reactions when she is presented with something that she doesn’t like are strong. We have had her spit food at us, gag, vomit, scream and cry. We have had dishes thrown on the floor and smashed. Days, weeks have passed at times without her eating a main meal.

We have timed her eating a meal and some nights it will take over an hour. To eat a simple bowl of cheese pasta. A simple meal, a meal she likes. Over an hour.

Poss at the dinner table

As she has gotten older, we have gotten better at it.ย Having her tonsils removed helped somewhat – it was physically easier for her to swallow.ย We now know there are sensory issues at play with some textures and sensations.

And as she got older and we figured out she wouldn’t die from only eating eggs on toast 5 nights a week, we kind of just accepted it was part of who she was and we are better at picking our battles. We dish it up and if she tries it, well, it’s a win.

However, there is one thing that still worries me. She won’t or maybe she can’t, use a knife. Some days she refuses to use a fork as well, eating with her fingers until one of us pulls her up. But I have honestly never seen her use a knife correctly. She does have some fine motor skills issues, so maybe it’s that?

But to never use a knife… I don’t know – is that normal? At what age did your kids start to use their cutlery properly?

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  1. Ummmmm, they still don’t….
    You know I remember eating outside because I couldn’t master table manners. I also remember my mother threatening to tie my arms down as her mother did to her… to teach the correct posture and where you hold your arms….
    Its an exceptionally difficult and awkward thing for kids to learn…
    She’ll get the hang of it when she realises why its worth learning…
    Besides eating with hands is awesome ๐Ÿ˜›
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    • I am so glad it’s not just Poss! Some nights I still make Poss eat outside at night… gotta love barbecues!

  2. My son is the same, very finicky with his food, getting better with age and since his adnodes were removed. He very rarely will use a knife or fork, opting for a spoon as it is quicker, he’s a competitive eater, eats like he is in a race or afraid someone will take it away, which has never been the case, my two youngest children love there utensils, any excuse to have all three on the table and they are the happiest little vegimites. It’s all fun at our dinner table.
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  3. Manipulation skills can be harder to develop & require great patients ๐Ÿ™‚
    Most children I have cared for in my 10 years (aged between 1 yr to 12 yrs) master using a knife at different ages; those that have have also mastered their shoe laces early, turning off hard taps/fossetts and chopsticks.

    It’s a skill most children do not like working on too, making the process longer & harder for all involved ๐Ÿ˜‰

    I think socially by the age of 10-12 years a child (if physically & mentally able) should be able to hold the knife (maybe not completely comfortably) and cut their meal……it may still be a messy process but hey their trying ๐Ÿ™‚

    As for a fork, I think it’s important to use from 3-5 years and remove spoons for meals/treats that require them ๐Ÿ™‚

    Their are many different types of designs (grips & manipulative patterns)for children’s cutlery; maybe venture out with Poss to see if she finds on she likes?

    I hope that helps ๐Ÿ™‚ good luck xx

    • Thanks so much Beth – I really appreciate your comments. I feel so much better knowing that it’s ok to not focus too much on the knife thing until she is a bit older…

      We still haven’t mastered laces either, so you are probably right – these things all tend to be linked don’t they?


  4. Meredith Kain says:

    J seldom uses a knife still.

    • Thanks Meredith, that makes me feel better! J is such a well rounded, good chick that if she isn’t doing it – then I won’t worry so much about Poss not doing it! xx

  5. I think I remember from my own childhood only really becoming capable with a knife the last year of high school. I do recall fighting with my grandma because she was concerned I couldn’t use a knife earlier, but mum didn’t think it was a huge issue. She was probably just trying to keep the knives away from my brother and I.

    • LOL – you actually made me laugh Sara! Yes, keeping the knives away… not a bad plan actually ๐Ÿ˜‰

  6. Michelle says:

    Olivia is light years away from using a knife!! She can use a fork and spoon and can jab a chopstick into her yum cha dumplings, but often chooses not to use utensils at all. Personally, i’m not stressed about it at home but encourage the fork when out!!! Knives are a long way off! Also, for the record, i have excellent fine motor skills, but my mum still tells me off for holding my knife upside down sometimes and for tugging food with my fork instead of sawing it with the knife!!! Poss will learn it eventually, but i think the main thing is to make your dinner time as stress free as possible for you all xxx

    • Thanks Shell – yes, stress free dinners are the plan… and we are getting better at just letting things go and not letting them upset us as much. Switching our perception has reduced stress dramatically!

  7. Hi Nay,
    First time commenting on your blog! And the first time I have thought that I may have something useful to contribute…
    My best friend has a gorgeous about to turn 15 year old boy with Asperger’s. From very early on he had issues with food, and still does, at almost 15. My friend still battles with the food thing, and whenever I visit them interstate, I see her constantly, gently reminding him to “use your fork/knife, Tom” (not his actual name). “Tom” still often uses his hands to eat, and will always go for pizza, pancakes, sausages, chips etc whilst my friend is always trying to maintain a healthy diet and offering other options. It’s hard.
    We met up recently with her family whilst on holiday and had a couple of meals at the local pub. The thing I have noticed in Tom over the years is that he has learned the social niceties eventually. So there was “Tom” at the pub, on his best eating behaviour, using his knife and fork, sort of, reluctantly, but he was doing it! At one point we could see he was just itching to stick his hand right into that plate! We knew it, but no one else had a clue.
    Anyway, what I have seen over the years with my friend’s family, is that the more you stress about the food thing, the worse it gets. The last time I visited them I took a fantastic photo of “Tom” with a pancake literally overflowing with sugar and maple syrup. He was grinning from ear to ear, and about to get down and dirty! It’s my favourite photo of him. His young brother had a pancake with an equally huge quantity of cream whip, yuck! This was a lovely, fun Sunday morning treat, without stress.

    • Thanks so much for taking the time to comment Jen! Yay!
      And thank you for your insights… I know you are right, we will look back on this and wonder why it mattered, but I am finding that hearing everyone’s experiences helps me to keep it all in context and not get too worked up about it. Finger food whenever possible though!
      “Tom” sounds like an amazing young man and from what you have told me about their family, they seem pretty awesome too. xx

  8. Oh lordy the food issues! I think Poss and Phoebe sound more and more similar every post I read! Phoebe has 4 or 5 dishes she will eat, Chorizo Pasta (sauce in one bowl, pasta in another), toad in the hole with gravy, chicken and gravy, dippy eggs or eggy bread and margarita pizza (so long as it is round and not oval), oh and chicken nuggets and chips from Macdonalds! Currently she also has a “sugar free” fixation because apparently sugar makes her sick (it doesn’t) so it is amazing the amount of “Sugar free” things she thinks we eat. We travel with at least 4 chorizo sausages and as many normal sausages as we can manage to make life easier abroad. Paul tries to challenge her from time to time but I am of the mind that she is happy, healthy and NOT pitching a fit then all is well in the world. As for cutlery, she isn’t too bad at it although not great at cutting up food herself and prefers me to do it. Sometimes you just have to accept that you can’t teach them to be less autistic/aspie and that these things matter to them I think!
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  9. I’m just laughing over the chorizo in hand luggage.

  10. Milla is obviously a bit younger than Poss (almost 4) and she mostly eats with her fingers or a spoon. We have waged theses dinner wars for years, and have finally come up with about 5 dinners that she will eat. I know I should keep persevering with introducing new foods, but I just don’t have the energy. Even the foods she will eat, are eaten s l o w l y , and still often with gagging and carrying on. Oh, and everything has to be room temperature… ah, the joys… (remember when dinner was just dinner??!)
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  11. my asd son will quite often request a fork etc as he doesn’t like getting his hands dirty but he loves to use corn holders to eat his entire meal. Why not?

    But to practice cutting with a knife we have started on sausages only. His 3.5 year old twin siblings can cut with a knife better than he can but they are soft and easy to manipulate. Meatballs now too, but we don’t push it.

    We also put all the foods on the table and dish little bits up. If he wants more of the things he likes he has to negotiate one other item he will eat before he gets more. It seems cruel, and negotiating with a 5.5 year old absurd but it works for us. At least he isn’t throwing what he doesn’t like back at us. It’s there for him to become familiar with at least if we are out for dinner he can handle having food he doesn’t like on the same plate as his meal

    • Poss often eats with toothpicks – similar to the corn holders! We try not to worry about it any more… Love your idea of the separate plate. We often do separate bowls, which she works her way through bit by bit. Seems to help her adjust to it all and we find she eats more… Whatever works!

  12. 16 is still really poor at knife skills and shoelaces are a huge drama , but boy can he dance!

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