Food and Feeding Issues in ASD

In this video, Certified Clinical Nutrition (CCN) Kelly Barnhill of The Johnson Center in Austin, Texas, discusses feeding issues in individuals with autism and the related medical and nutritional concerns that arise in the context of many autistic individuals’ selective diets. Additionally, Barnhill provides a methodology for assessing and addressing these feeding issues.

Barnhill begins her presentation with an overview of eating habits and preferences in neurotypical children, and compares these trends to those of autistic individuals, looking at the relatively small amount of research into this field which has been done. Some findings of research into the eating habits of autistic individuals include that autistic individuals eat fewer foods than their neurotypical peers, that autistic individuals ingest significantly more magnesium and significantly less protein, calcium, vitamin D, and vitamin B12 than their peers, and that individuals with autism are significantly more likely to develop a nutrient deficiency than their peers.

Barnhill then discusses what must go into an assessment and crafting an intervention plan for a child with autism who is exhibiting selective eating. Medical concerns can influence selective diets, so the first step should be ruling out a contributing medical condition. Once a medical condition has been ruled out or treated, it is important to evaluate a child’s eating habits – are they over or underweight, do they demonstrate lethargy or do they have an abundance of energy, etc.? It is also important to analyze other factors which may relate to feeding issues, such as poor motor skills or sensory issues, as well as caretaker feeding habits. All of these factors are important information to help caretakers and nutritionists to develop an effective intervention plan.

Food and Feeding Issues in ASD
By: Autism Research Institute
Initial Air Date: Feb 24, 2016
Source: YouTube

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