|dc.description.abstract||Background: Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) affects 1 in 100 children in the UK, with
eating problems common in 80% of cases. A study by parents reported that 69% found
that trying new foods is the most challenging part of dietary issues, with gagging,
tantrums and aggression all exhibited. Anxiety, sensory processing abnormalities and
mastication issues are only a few causes of picky eating and this can have detrimental
effects on the nutritional adequacy of the diet. Studies show obesity and calcium
deficiency are significantly higher in children with ASD compared with typically developed
Method: A specifically designed intervention is given to two case studies at Kaimes
School for five sessions. Case study 1 is designed to improve dietary intake by increasing
food variety as the current diet (of plain white basmati rice three times per day) is deficient
in a number of nutrients. Case study 2 is designed to increase exposure of fruit and
vegetables and to incorporate them into the everyday diet of the individual.
Case Study 1: Observations show that the smell of the foods and initial anxiety when
trying new food is the main cause of food refusal. Most foods were tried and there was
a successful change swapping white rice for wholegrain rice – resulting in significant
improvements to protein (+8.4 g) and fibre (+5.3 g) consumption.
Case Study 2: Mood was the key factor influencing cooperation with the intervention.
Mood and anxiety were associated with a change in routine (i.e. absence of the Home
Economics teacher) and often resulted in food refusal. No significant changes were
made to the diet during the intervention.
Conclusion: Anxiety and mood can have severe consequences on food intake and often
understanding the individual is key to introducing new foods. After studying two different
cases, it is clear that each child with ASD must be uniquely investigated by a case study,
in order to greatly enhance their diet and introduce new foods.
Key Words: Autism. Food Selectivity. Sensory Process. Anxiety. Mood. Die||en