Development of nutritional aids to increase fruit consumption among children who do not verbally communicate.
(2016) Development of nutritional aids to increase fruit consumption among children who do not verbally communicate., no. 29.
Background: Diets among individuals with autism and intellectual disabilities are said to be much narrower then typically developing populations. The literature is vast in research on feeding problems regarding children with Autism and Intellectual Disabilities. In addition to the fact that childhood diets are becoming increasingly topical with our current obesity epidemic it is pivotal that attempts are made to improve diets in some way. Subject group: This was a case study conducted in St. Crisipin's primary school, Edinburgh, with three P5 students. All the students had Autism Spectrum disorder, severe intellectual learning difficulties and one student also had Downs syndrome; furthermore, all of them were non-verbal and communicated using symbol PECS boards. Aim: The aim of the study was to increase fruit consumption at snack time among a small population who do not verbally communicate. Results: Through a food frequency questionnaire the subject's diets were assessed and then compared to an age matched sample of typically developing children. There were marked differences among all food groups in question but, fruit was the only group to show a significant difference. The intervention group showed much lower fruit consumption. The intervention then began by redesigning some PEC images to make them more relatable to snack time. A game was created using these new images to build recognition for the children. Despite positive results with the game the new images failed to show any benefit and were no longer used following intervention. Tasting sessions of fruit were conducted, and these trialed fruits were offered continuously over a two-week period. Positive results were produced in two cases following the intervention. There was no significant change in the third case. Conclusion: Offering a wide variety of foods continuously to children can help increase preference and consumption in some cases. Further research is needed to reinforce these methods in larger scale interventions.