Children are often very picky eaters. But as a baby, Chase Bailey wouldn’t even take a bottle of milk.
He rejected most foods, making exceptions for green beans, potatoes, chicken, and rice. He even disliked Jell-O and ice cream! The boy’s mother Mary can only recall 5 dishes her son would eat: Trader Joe’s chocolate chip cookies, little Caesar’s pizza, Carl’s Jr. chicken stars and fries, and 5-layer dip. She became increasingly worried because it started to take a toll on his health.
After some research, Mary learned that a symptom of autism is food aversion. Chase wasn’t simply a picky eater- his autism interfered with his ability to enjoy different foods. However, nothing seemed to work. There were countless attempted therapy methods but none were successful.
One day, at the age of 8, Chase happened to catch a show on the Food Network. Ever since, he’s been fascinated by cooking shows, even going so far as to record and watch them back to back. His mother was thrilled, since this presented a new opportunity to introduce new foods in a safe way. Soon mother and son started to cook together at home. Chase in turn became more adventurous with his food choices. He now dreams of becoming a chef, a food blogger or a cooking show host.
Although he’s had great success with overcoming his eating habits, Chase was still struggling at school. Even with a student aid, the traditional classroom wasn’t beneficial to his education needs. Mary decided to quit her corporate job and home school her son full time. She was able to incorporate his passion for cooking into the curriculum. Food has allowed Chase to be in a positive learning environment where he can feel comfortable and really excel. There’s math in shopping for food, budgeting, measuring ingredients, weighing, and timing. He also gets a geography lesson by he learns the cultural origin of a particular dish.
Together, Chase and his mother have created their own cooking show where Chase is the host. His first guest Chef was Roy Choi, the owner of Kogi BBQ food truck in Orange County. The most recent guest was Chef Greg Daniels who can personally relate to Mary’s story. His daughter suffers from a rare condition called Treacher Collins syndrome and also has strong food aversions. It’s great to see Chase’s excitement for food though cooking and his ability to use it as a new form of feeding therapy.
Many are overwhelmed with Chase’s progress. He started off unable to speak or properly play with toys. Now he has a cooking show of his own and dreams of owning his own food truck called Burger Demon.
Written by Raiza Belarmino