Tip of the Day
Nutrition and Autism
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report about one in 88 children has been identified with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). How does ASD affect eating habits?
Just about every child, with or without autism, can be choosy and particular about the foods he or she eats. But people with ASD often repeat behaviors and have narrow, obsessive interests which can affect eating habits and food choices. This can lead to health concerns like:
- Limited food selection/strong food dislikes. Someone with autism may be sensitive to the taste, smell, color and/or texture foods. They may limit or totally avoid some foods and even whole groups of foods. Common dislikes include fruits, vegetables and slippery, soft foods.
- Not eating enough food. Kids with autism may have difficulty focusing on one task for an extended period of time. It may be hard for a child to sit down and eat a meal from start to finish.
- Constipation. This problem is usually caused by a child's limited food choices. It can be remedied through a high-fiber diet, plenty of fluids and regular physical activity.
- Medication interactions. Some stimulant medications used with autism, such as Ritalin, lower appetite. This can reduce the amount of food a child eats, which can affect growth. Other medications may increase appetite or affect the absorption of certain vitamins and minerals. If your child takes medication, ask your health-care provider about possible side effects.
Consult a registered dietitian in your area and visit our Autism and Diet page to identify any nutritional risks based on how your child eats; answer your questions about diet therapies and supplements advertised as helpful for autism; and help guide your child on how to eat well and live healthfully.
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Reviewed January 2013