Eating food is something that most people take for granted but for a person with autism, it can be another challenging part of their condition leading to a limited diet and even meltdowns.
Mollie Fraser, 19, is one such adult who faces a daily struggle with food – she describes herself as having heightened taste buds which leads to her being hyper-sensitive to tastes to the extent of only eating and drinking particular brands and varieties of foods. In addition, the presentation of food can cause an issue with food not to be touching other foods on the plate. Changes to packaging and unexpected items being on her plate can lead to feeling stressed and having meltdowns.
Motivated by her own experience and inspired by seeing an eating trial, Mollie set herself the challenge to spend a whole day only eating foods that she hadn’t tried before.
Mollie says, “At first I was going to do it just for fun to see if I could, but then someone suggested to me that I could raise money and do it as a fundraiser. I am doing it as a fundraiser so that I can raise awareness for autistic people who have problems with their eating. A lot of people have problems with their food touching, texture/smells of food and so on, but it’s not widely known. I felt like if I could show people the problems I have with it I could raise awareness for it and raise money for a good cause. I also wanted to challenge myself – I wanted to do something so out of my comfort zone to prove to myself I can do it. Personally for me, it would have been easier to do a skydive.”
Mollie describes her current diet as limited and says that she eats the same things all the time on a rotation, and that they have to be certain brands and prepared in a particular way. For example, she will only eat one brand of sweetcorn and will only eat the top of broccoli, not the stem and even then only if it has gravy on it. She hoped that by the end of the day, she would have discovered new foods that she liked to enable her to broaden her diet.
As Mollie was pushing herself to step outside of her comfort zone, she decided to use the opportunity to also raise money. She says, “I chose Daisy Chain because it is an autism-related challenge and due to my own autism, I wanted to be able to use it for good for a change. I wanted to use my difficulties to help others who struggle with it. I know Daisy Chain help so many children and adults with autism and it is based in my area so I know that the money I raise will be really making a difference to children and adults here. I liked the fact it was a local based charity. ”
Mollie’s 24 hours of eating only things she’d never eaten before took place at the start of February and though she found it tricky and felt at times that she wasn’t going to be able to complete what she set out to do, she did manage to achieve her goal and in doing so managed to raise over her target of £300, as well as highlighting the daily struggle that she and others with autism face.