How Does Finicky Eating Affect Children with Autism?

(Photo by Flickr/Muffet)

A common characteristic of a child with autism is that they are very picky eaters.  They often have a limited range of food they are comfortable eating, and they are not receptive to altering their routine diet with new foods.  Children with autism tend to shy away from certain foods, depending on how severe their sensory sensitivities are.

This characteristic begs the question; will this affect my child’s growth?  If his or her eating habits are this limited, are they getting the balanced diet that they needResearchers have recently published a study to clear up the matter: no difference has been found in the growth between children with autism and those without.

The team of researchers discovered that children with autism consume less fruits and vegetables.  However, they also don’t indulge in sweets to the extent that their peers do.  They also found that ultimately, children with autism and children without autism end up taking in similar amounts of proteins, carbohydrates, fats, and calories.

In any nutritional areas where children with autism fell short, it was not enough to make an impact.  The researchers urged that parents should not stress out too much about their child’s diet.  Aside from some difference in vitamin C and vitamin D, children with autism were getting enough of all the important nutrients.

Pauline Emmett, the co-author of the study and a nutritionist at the University of Bristol, said: “Although children with autism spectrum disorders are more difficult to feed and they eat less variety of foods, this is not affecting the nutrients of their diet, their height, weight or BMI.  There doesn’t seem to be any major cause for concern.”

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