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Healthy eating

Many children with autism are selective about what they eat or how they eat it. Children with autism may be more likely to stick with what they are most familiar with. This can be because they become obsessed with a particular food, plate or routine.

They may also avoid new foods because they find all new experiences difficult to cope with or refuse some meals because they want something that they feel in control of. For a child who finds communication difficult, refusing to eat something can be a way of communicating stress or anxiety about something else.

Also, many children with autism experience taste, smell or texture differently. This can be a further reason for finding some foods difficult to accept. Some children eat a limited diet because of their strong desire for sameness; this gives them a sense of safety and calm.

Why children with ASD can be selective eaters is not clearly understood but there are factors to consider:

  • Sensory issues and food

  • What about the environment?

  • PICA

  • Is something else going on?

Need more information? 

Books:

  •  Food Refusal and Avoidant Eating in Children, including those with Autism Spectrum Conditions: A Practical Guide for Parents and Professionals by Gillian Harris and Elizabeth Shea
  •  How to get you Kid to eat But not too much by Ellyn Satter
  • Can’t Eat won’t eat by Brenda Legg

Websites:

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