Autism Spectrum Disorder is a complex developmental and neurological situation that is typically present during the first 3 years of life. It affects the brain function in reference to the social interaction and communication skills. Symptoms involved include delayed talking, reduced interest in playing with other children, not wanting to be held or cuddled and unable to maintain eye contact while interacting. People with ASD often have repetitive behaviors and have narrow, obsessive interests. It affects eating habits and food choice which can lead to the following health concerns.
- Less food choice – Autism patients may be sensitive to the taste, smell, color and texture of foods. They have limited inclination towards food or can completely ignore a few food groups. Common dislikes amongst food can include fruits, vegetables and soft foods.
- Not eating more food-Child with autism may have problem focusing on one task for increased duration of time. It may be hard for a child to sit down and eat a meal from start to finish.
- Constipation– The problem is basically due to no/less recognition of food’s taste by a child. During this, it is advised to give the child a high-fiber balanced diet, ample amount of fluids and regular with physical activity.
- Medication Focus- Few stimulant medications used with autism, such as Ritalin, lower appetite. It can lead to lesser amount of food a child might consume, which can affect the growth. Other medications may increase appetite or affect the absorption of certain vitamins and minerals. If your child takes medication, ask your doctor about the possible side effects.
Most of the parents find their child’s sensitivity to taste, colors, smell and textures the biggest barriers to maintain a balanced diet. Getting your child to try new taste foods, primarily those which are soft and light may seem nearly impossible. You may find that your child ignoring certain foods or even entire food groups.