Nutritional Needs and Recommended Guidelines
Growth, Nutrient, and Energy Needs
- Same as those for the general population unless there are digestive issues.
- Some people with ASD may be at nutritional risk due to their behaviors with foods and eating. Common problems include refusing certain foods and being unwilling to try new foods. Some individuals may prefer food that is a specific consistency, color, brand, or shape. This type of behavior can put them at nutritional risk, especially if entire food groups (i.e., vegetables or dairy) are avoided.
Common Health Concerns Related to ASD
- Food Sensitivities
Researchers have found that psychoactive peptides from improperly digested casein (milk) or gluten-based (wheat) foods affect brain function in some individuals with ASD.
The treatment is a gluten-free, casein-free diet. It is important to consult with a physician and a licensed nutrition professional before eliminating foods from the diet.
- Vitamin and Mineral Supplements
People on the autism spectrum may be selective eaters, which can put them at risk for some vitamin and mineral deficiencies. If a diet is high in overly processed foods, a person may be deficient in vitamins C, E, and B-6 and minerals such as magnesium, molybdenum, chromium, and selenium.
Recommendations regarding supplements and special diets should come from registered dietitians or licensed nutritionists and physicians.
If a person with ASD presents with any of the following, please consult with a physician or registered dietitian nutritionist to address nutritional concerns:
- A picky eater,
- Has extensive food allergies,
- Has problems with food texture,
- Is always tired and lacks energy,
- Has chronic diarrhea or stomach distress