Written by Tricia Au
Oftentimes parents with autistic children notice that during infancy, the child is more receptive towards baby foods. However, the transition from baby foods to table foods could be challenging. Children with autism are commonly seen to favour food that is dry or with a more crunchy texture. On the other hand, they are reluctant to try food with textures that are soft or smooth. Besides that, they prefer finger foods as compared to using a spoon or fork to eat. Some of the foods that are frequently seen associated with autistic children are cereal without milk, biscuits or crackers, nuggets, hot dog, pizza, bread and plain pasta. fruits and vegetables are usually limited in their diets.
As the child grows, they’d be more sensitive to new foods and the number and variety of food will be even more restricted to less than 10-15 items. This causes stress on the family as the child continues to decline foods introduced to them, and soon, parents will only give foods that they know the child will eat. the child may have various mealtimes in a day or separate meals with the family, involving less in family mealtimes. Due to their selective eating behavior, they may have a low intake or deficiency in nutrients in their diets.
However, with the appropriate intervention, support and guidance, it is not impossible to introduce new food and help broaden their interest in different food. By improving the child’s eating behaviour, he/she will be getting the appropriate nutrients which is crucial for their overall development. In the next part, we will explore how you can improve healthy eating habits for children with special needs.
Capaldi, C. (n.d.). Nutritional Issues And Special Needs Children. Retrieved from https://www.abilities.com/community/buzz/buzz58-nutritional.html
Donahue, E. (n.d.). Common Nutritional Problems in Kids With Special Needs. Retrieved from https://healthyeating.sfgate.com/common-nutrition-problems-kids-special-needs-6499.html
Washington State Department of Health. (2010). Nutritional Intervention For Children With Special Health Needs Care (3rd ed.). Retrieved from https://www.doh.wa.gov/Portals/1/Documents/8100/961-158-CSHCN-NI-en-L.pdf
The Star. (2019). Nutritious Meals For Children With Special Needs. Retrieved from https://www.thestar.com.my/lifestyle/family/2019/01/18/nutritious-meals-for-children-with-special-needs/
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