Lots of children with autism are selective about what they eat due to sensory issues. The smell, taste, texture and sight of some food can be overwhelming for them and can cause food avoidance.
There are lots of things that you can try to encourage your child to eat. If your child is particularly picky, it might be useful to stick to one texture at a time and not put too much on their plate or use a divider plate. Remember to be patient and give lots of praise when they try new things. Also offer them a variety of foods so that they can choose and be involved in the process. Finally, make sure you rule out any medical issues such gastrointestinal problems with your child’s GP. You can read in more detail our tips for picky eaters in our previous post here.
In this blog, we will give you some food ideas that your child will hopefully enjoy eating.
1. Crunchy food
Some children like to chew and bite things due to the sensory input that it provides them. Crunchy food can also have the same affect. Some examples are:
Similarly, some children will seek out food that has a strong taste, such as spicy, salty and sour. Some examples of these foods are:
2. Wet Foods
If your child doesn’t like dry food and prefers a wet texture, it is worthwhile trying smoothies, soups and a selection of different dips that your child can be encouraged to dip food into. Wet foods can be a great way of including lots a fruit and vegetables into your child’s diet.
Sometimes a child might be willing to try something with a sauce, for example macaroni cheese. You could always start by introducing the sauce on the side.
3. Beige foods
Some children are not bothered about the smell, taste or texture of foods but the colour. Lots of children with autism like plain beige foods, such as pasta, tortillas, chicken nuggets and chips.
In a perfect world, your child would happily eat a mixture of food groups and have a healthy, balanced diet. Our advice would be to find out what food type your child is attracted to, let them explore as many foods as possible within that type but give them the space and time to discover new foods to give them the nutrients that they need.
Finally, if you suspect any foods are impacting on their behaviour or mood, write a food diary and consult a dietician (read more about this in our blog post here).
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