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Fussy eating and autism spectrum disorder

Fussy eating is not just an autism thing  – most parent have to contend with fussy eaters at one stage or another.  They have to deal with temper tantrums and tears over children not wanting to eat their food.  Fussy eating and autism spectrum disorder just takes the concept of food to a whole new level.  Research has shown that children with autism are five times more likely to have mealtime challenges.  

Some children will only eat a very limited range of food’s and this can cause health problems if not addressed others will have ritualistic type eating behaviours towards colours or food touching on their plates.

The challenges are very real and there are two major factors that you as the parent need to address.

ONE:  if you child has a limited food range you have to find a way of supplementing your child’s diet with the vitamins and minerals he/she needs to grow and develop and be healthy.

TWO:  the goal must always be to help your child with rigid eating behaviours to (eventually) enable them to eat a healthy range of foods.  But realise that this could take years.

So it is very important for you as the parent to understand what might be behind the rigid eating behaviours because the causes may be:

  • Sensory; or
  • Acid reflux; or
  • Eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE) – which is an allergic swallowing disorder; or
  • Underdeveloped oral motor musculature and or ..  this list goes on!

Our advice is:  “take your child to a very good Paediatric Gastroenterologist” – somebody that can rule our organic causes and then take the next step from there.  

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Ilse Kilian-Ross

Ilse Kilian-Ross is the owner of Amazing K, a registered ECD and Partial Care Facility in Johannesburg. Amazing K is a private adhd school, autism school and therapy centre for children from age 2 - 6 years where learners receive the best of both the schooling and therapy world. The autism school offers Individualized Education Programs, Speech- and Augmentive Alternative Communication (AAC) therapy as well as a full and adapted Academic Curriculum.