ASD or Autism Spectrum Disorder is a neurological and developmental condition that generally shows within the first three years of life. ASD affects brain function, mostly in the areas of communication skills and social interaction. Typical symptoms include not wanting to be cuddled or held, lack of interest in playing with other children, poor eye contact, and delayed talking. While there is no known cause, it is believed that environment and genetics play a role.

Individuals with ASD often have narrow, obsessive interests and repeat behaviors. Food choices, as well as eating habits, can be affected by these types of behavior, leading to the following health concerns, not eating enough food, strong food dislikes or limited food selection, constipation, and/or medication interactions.

It can be challenging on many levels, caring for a child with ASD. For children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, a balanced, nutritious diet can make a significant difference in their ability to manage their emotions, to learn, and the way they process information. However, since children with ASD have difficulty sitting through mealtimes and/or have restricted diets, they likely are not getting all the nutrients they require.

Consider these nutrition strategies if you have a child with ASD:

Be Ready for Pickiness

Most parents of children with ASD find the child’s sensitivity to smells, tastes, colors, and textures the largest barrier to a balanced diet. Consider having your child pick a new food at the market and research it together on the internet. Then, prepare the food together but do not worry if the child does not want to eat it.

Make Mealtimes Routine

Making mealtimes predictable can remove some of the stressors. Serve meals at the same time every day and think about what else you can do to make mealtime less stressful.

Another way you can help your child with ASD gain the proper nutrition is by seeking guidance for special diets. Or, work with a registered dietitian nutritionist.