Healthy Nutrition for Children on the Autism Spectrum
By Carleton Rivers, RD, LD
Eating and feeding issues are common concerns for parents of children with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). If not treated appropriately, these problems can escalate into more severe issues. For example, most parents find that their children go through phases of picky eating which can usually be resolved with a little time and effort. However, children on the
Extreme Food Selectivity
Other ASD-related nutrition concerns that can negatively impact a child’s health include difficulty swallowing, side-effects from medications, food sensitivities/allergies leading to gastrointestinal symptoms and disordered eating. It is pertinent that these issues be discussed with the child’s doctor to ensure appropriate treatment. Parents who attempt to implement their own treatment (ex. Gluten-free, casein-free diet) without professional guidance are putting their child’s health at risk.
Listed below are resources for eating issues related to ASD. This information should be used for reference only and does not take the place of medical advice.
- Nadon G, Feldman DE, Dunn W, et al. Association of Sensory Processing and Eating Problems in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Autism Res Treat. 2011;2011:1-8. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3420765/.
- Indiana Resource Center for Autism. Mealtime and Children on the Autism Spectrum: Beyond Picky, Fussy, and Fads. http://www.iidc.indiana.edu/?pageId=476.
- ‘Fussy Eaters’ and Autism. http://www.autism-help.org/behavior-fussy-eaters.htm.
- Gastrointestinal Tract Problems. http://www.autism-help.org/comorbid-gastrointestinal-disorders.htm.
- Autism Speaks, Inc. Research. http://www.autismspeaks.org/science.
- Autism Speaks, Inc. Going Out To Eat. http://www.autismspeaks.org/family-services/going-out-to-eat.
- Autism Speaks, Inc. What Is It about Autism and Food? http://www.autismspeaks.org/blog/2013/09/27/what-it-about-autism-and-food.
- Autism Speaks, Inc. Encouraging Picky Eaters with Autism to Try New Foods. http://www.autismspeaks.org/blog/2012/11/09/encouraging-picky-eaters-autism-try-new-foods.
- Autism Speaks, Inc. Feeding Plan. http://www.autismspeaks.org/blog/2013/07/27/autism-speaks-national-conference-developing-feeding-plan.