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Busch Gardens Food & Wine Festival to bust through picky eater blockades

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There are picky eaters among us (or even us!). Some of them are your typical picky eaters; some are those that take it to Olympic levels of extraordinary unwillingness to try things. The latter are usually on the autism spectrum whether they know it or not. Not all ASD kids have food aversions, but it seems that most of them do. Anxiety goes hand and hand with autism, so often it’s the fear of trying something that looks unappealing, or has a strong smell. This is one of the many issues we face when feeding our ASD kid. Logic often doesn’t work (“you wouldn’t know you liked pizza until you tried it”), incentives don’t usually work either, once I offered my son and iPad to try eating actual food in his taco shell, he refused. Which was good, in no way could I have afforded to get one. But I figured he would say no, considering all of the other incentives I have offered over the years of things I could pull off, things he loves like money and iTunes cards. It was more a test to see if there was anything at all. Turns out, there wasn’t, not that day. It comes down to keeping at it, for every now and then, when the moon and the stars align, and the wind is sweet (and most importantly his neurons are firing in a certain way) he will be open to try something. Sometimes it’s just the once even if he likes it. (Oh couscous we were so close).

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Most of the time when we are away from home on a vacation or short trip our son is more willing to try new foods. He is generally more relaxed, his needs are being met sensory-wise since we always wind up somewhere there is a pool. And all of our trips involve theme parks; they are one-stop shopping for stimulation and sensory playgrounds. Of course it can be too much, but we have learned with much practice how much is enough. For his birthday this year we will be heading to Busch Gardens in Williamsburg VA during the Food & Wine Fest, this means, Food will be the main event. I get the feeling, this will bring together the perfect elements to try new foods, and maybe with a little vacation magic, a better rounded diet when we return.

The food in Busch Gardens is not your ordinary theme park food of burgers and lousy sandwiches. So even when there is no special event you can dine in Italy on Manicotti, pasta, Eggplant or Chicken Parm, Or when you are in Germany there is a variety of sausages and German sides; over in France you can enjoy a smoke house of Chicken, brisket and ribs, and mac-n-cheese, or in England Fish and Chips. Ireland you can find Irish stew, and everywhere you can find salads, desserts and of course French fries. Prices are reasonable, with most entrees which include a beverage being around 9; up to 15 for a 3 course smoke house entree…desserts and sides are around 3.

Food & Wine Festival (May 23-June 29) take your taste buds on vacation for an extra special culinary tour through BG. Since the park is separated into countries already that showcase those countries food, (France, Ireland, Germany, Scotland, and Italy) you can find additional offerings in the form of tastings within those countries such as Pork Schnitzel in Germany and hand crafted German Beers. There will also be additional representatives like Spain, Canada in New France, Austria in Germany, Scandinavia in Ireland and this year a Caribbean themed menu will be added. Tastings range from 3-7. For your convenience you can buy a cashless wrist band that you either pre load with a specific amount or attach to a credit card. There are no additional fees and your account is settled at the end of the day. You can preview a map on the BG Website. There is also a special Wine on the Rhine, live Jazz music and delicious offerings while you cruise down the Rhine River. For $20 you can purchase cheese, fruit, crackers and gourmet truffle and 2 wine or beer samples. For guests 21 and over (younger guests will get juice and the cost is 5 less) and take 25-30 minute cruise down the Rhine River.

We will be attending the opening weekend I will report back how this goes and what he tries and doesn’t. If we have any success I will share it.

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