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Organic Food Company Gives 10-Year-Old Boy With Autism A Special Waffle Recipe

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Cinnamon waffles

Jenna Roman was on the search for a certain brand of waffles, so she created a GoFundMe in hopes that she would be able to find the waffles of which she desperately needs for her son.

Her 10-year-old son, Jerico, has autism and what Roman describes as extreme oral aversion and complex eating challenges, including a highly sensitive gag reflex, which have caused him eating difficulties since he was just eight months old.

In February 2020, Jericho became ill. possibly due to Covid-19, and went a full 12 days without eating food and five days without drinking.

"When I was able to get him to start again he had regressed so much he had to relearn how to drink and eat," Roman wrote. "It was very hard but he accepted a different kind of cinnamon waffles."

When those waffles were temporarily discontinued, the single mother of three boys, another of whom has also been diagnosed with autism, managed to find one replacement Jericho would tolerate — Nature's Path Maple Cinnamon Waffles.

And then those were discontinued as well.

Roman felt “sick to her stomach” when she found out the brand was discontinued.

"Not everyone understands the severity of Jerico’s challenge and think that eventually he will just accept another kind but it doesn’t work like that," she explained. "He would go on a hunger strike if I didn’t have his waffles."

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While Jericho's behavior may seem extreme to parents who don't know what it is like to raise a child with autism, research conducted by Susan Mayes, professor of psychiatry at Penn State University, found that "atypical eating behaviors were present in 70 percent of children with autism, which is 15 times more common than in neurotypical children."

Ever the dedicated mom, Roman turned to the Canada-based organic food company for help.

“I was just hoping that people could look at their local stores to see if the waffles were there and could grab them for me so I could pay them and get them picked up," Roman said.

When a friend of an employee spotted her social media posts and passed them on, the company jumped in to help out.

Ratana Stephens, CEO and cofounder of Nature's Path said they were happy to do what they could to get Jericho well stocked again.

“We heard how much he loved our Maple Cinnamon waffles, and how his mom Jenna was having a hard time finding them in stores, and we were really touched and wanted to help,” Stephens told TODAY Food.

Not only did the people at Nature's Path track down the last remaining boxes of their frozen Maple Cinnamen waffles and have them shipped to Jericho from a warehouse in Illinois, but they went one step further to make sure the boy would never run out of his favorite meal again.

To Roman's surprise, the company also presented Roman with a modified

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Roman said she knew that eventually, the supplies would run out, so she was willing to pay the company for their recipe and the peace of mind it would bring her.

“These were the last ones ever made,” Stephens said. “So our incredible research and development team started working on adapting our commercial recipe for home use.”

“We use a lot of commercial ingredients in our production process that aren’t available at your local grocery store, and of course we wanted the ingredients to be easy to find,” she continued. “And we had to scale the amounts in the recipe way down. But our research and development team was determined to do it. They really went above and beyond, testing and tweaking the recipe.”

It took the company over a month to develop the new recipe, and now Roman has it at her disposal and is relieved she can now help Jerico eat his favorite food.

Roman is hopeful that when the time comes for her to try making the waffles from scratch according to the new recipe, Jerico won't be able to taste a difference.

If he does, Nature's Path communication director Samantha Falk, who pesonally delivered the recipe to the family, says the company is more than willing to work with them and tweak the recipe as needed.

For the company, it’s a small gesture. But for the Roman family, it means the world.

Here's hoping more companies heed such calls and act as quickly to be of service to people in need as Nature’s Path did for the Roman family.

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Tomás Diniz Santos is a writer living in Orlando, Florida. He covers news, entertainment, and pop-culture topics.