The Lunchroom


We have an ongoing love/ hate relationship with the lunchroom.

For most of last year, my son did not eat in the lunchroom.  Instead, he sat in the office near the secretaries and ate before going to recess.  During these daily lunch dates, he would share about his morning, talk a bit of Minecraft, and the ladies would encourage him to eat his “body food.”

We started this plan after it was clear that the lunchroom was just too stimulating for him.  To the “typical” student, the lunchroom equals social freedom and opportunities; but to my TBP, the noise of the trays hitting the tables, the people moving quickly, the nonstop talking, and all the different smells floating in the air were just too much.

We quickly learned that no one benefitted when my TBP didn’t eat his lunch.  If we received a phone call from the school about an “incident” that happened, it was almost a sure thing that the infraction took place at lunch recess after he didn’t eat his food.  Showing up at school, unzipping his lunchbox and seeing the same contents that I had carefully packed that morning was frustrating.

It wouldn’t take long before my son would read my face and start to explain…”I’m sorry, Mama! I can’t think in there!  I just can’t focus and it takes me so long to find a good spot and then I’m out of time.”  I understood that his actions were not deliberate and it was clear that he needed help so that he could make it through the rest of his day.  A plan was developed and it made a huge difference.

That was last year…

This year, the school staff wanted to try the lunchroom.  I was extremely apprehensive about the decision.  I explained to the staff that this would sabotage his ability to function and that he would then be punished for his actions that were brought on by not eating.  They understood my concern, but also pointed out that he was older and that for the first time…he was interested in friends.  I knew what they were talking about…my son was interested in his peers and he wanted to be “like them” in a way that he hadn’t cared about before.  Surprisingly, he was coming home and talking about the students in his class and who he was playing with at recess.  The principal reminded me that many of the recess plans, were manufactured during lunch and he was concerned that my TBP would miss out on that opportunity.

That was in September and for the most part, my son has eaten in the lunchroom with the kids, the noises, the lights and the smells.  I know this change is a big step…a huge step really.  Yes…there are days where he complains about it, but it seems to be those days where he has experienced a heightened sensory day…such as instruments in music or stomping feet during PE.

So now I ask you….What is something that you are surprised that your child can do today, that he couldn’t do yesterday?

19 thoughts on “The Lunchroom

  1. So great to have reached this coping milestone ! What do you think helped ? More confidence / less stress doing better generally, deciding he wanted to do it so is better able to overcome the sensitivities? Distraction because he is now talking to friends at lunch ? A greater comfort level and familiarity with the other kids ? Did you do any specific therapy ?
    Both my kids struggle with this

    Again I am struck what a good relationship you have with your son who can / will tell you what difficulties he is experiencing

    • Rachel-
      I wish I knew 🙂
      I truly think it was a combination of maturing, OT, family therapist, and knowing that he could try the lunchroom if he felt ready.

      We tried to let him know that although most kids don’t feel this way, there are many that do. We also gave him examples of when we feel uncomfortable and how we coped.

      If you have any other questions, feel free to email me. It truly is one of the biggest reasons that I started the blog.
      Blessings to you 🙂

  2. That is wonderful! The timing of this post is really interesting to me because the parent speaker at our parent support group just a couple of days ago was talking about how recess is often unbearable for gifted children – chaos, lack of rules, lots of stimulation, etc. She was saying that, in her experience, kids will be able to handle recess when they get a little older but that it can be traumatic when they are younger. Your son seems to be teaching us a similar lesson with lunchtime!

    • So true! The lunchroom was a huge milestone! Honestly, recess can still be hard but it is getting better. Thankfully, his teacher is great about thinking about assemblies or other grade level activities that he needs to sit out. Progress is good…right?!?

  3. Oh Boy
    there is so much that he can do now that at one time I really didn’t think he would be able to do. Attend school is one of them. Wear “scratchy” clothes. Make toast without oven gloves. Use scissors. Use knives. Cook on the stove. Brush his teeth regularly. Cope with change and it goes on.

    Sometimes the hurdles feel just too big! I am glad your son has got over this one!

    • I totally understand -especially the scratchy clothes !

      It can seem overwhelming and then I stop and remember where we have been 🙂
      Thank you for stopping by and commenting!
      Blessings to you and yours 🙂

  4. We can go to the library as a family, for the first time in 5 years (my TBP is 7). The scratchy clothes and teethbrushing are still a fight but I’m hopeful! I’m clinging to your success as hope for us. Congrats on the lunchroom break-through! That’s a HUGE step!

    • Oh,Don’t get me started on the library!! That is a hard one!! Teeth brushing only got better when we showed him pictures of terrible, rotten teeth. I have to admit that flossing is almost impossible!

      Thank you for visiting and blessings to you and yours!!

  5. You’re right. The lunchroom can be a house of horrors for some kids. My older boy takes medicine and a side affect is an appetite suppressant. He barely eats during the day. So, on top of everything you mentioned, he is not even hungry at that point. He and his best friend get into some wacky ventures during lunch. I wish they had the lunch bunch with the social worker more often.
    Glad to hear and certainly understand that this is progress that your son is experiencing.

  6. He is growing up. Ironically…although you will celebrate his growing up…you will miss his younger years, as he matures, also. Enjoy each moment.

    • I already do!
      He likes to see me react when he says, “I am getting so big! I’m a really big boy!”
      I figure that as long as he calls himself a “really bug boy” that he really isn’t 🙂

  7. Love this! Congrats to your son. That’s awesome. My 3 1/2 year old learned to say “cookie” instead of “ee” this year at school. I think that’s a win.

  8. Pingback: Gifted Children at Home and in the Classroom | Institute for Educational Advancement's Blog

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