Top 5 autism tips for professionals: eating issues

In this article, Dr Elizabeth Shea, clinical psychologist from Birmingham Food Refusal Services provides her top 5 tips for autism professionals on the subject of eating issues and autism. Dr Shea has also written an article on ‘’understanding and managing eating issues on the autism spectrum’’ for Network autism.

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Top 5 tips

Eating issues

1. Do allow the child to eat their preferred and safe foods; this will maintain weight and allow the child to meet their expected growth pattern.      

2. Don’t hide or disguise new foods (including medicines) in the child’s familiar foods as this will ‘contaminate’ the liked food leading to its refusal.     

3. Do work with the child’s sensory issues by helping them get used to the look, texture, smell and taste of new foods.     

4. Don’t allow the child to go for long periods without eating or drinking as differences in appetite regulation mean they are at risk of dehydration or weight loss.

5. Do use relaxation techniques to reduce the child’s anxiety around new foods and eating situations. 

These top 5 tips are meant only as a very general guide to what to think about. You can find further information on this subject below.

Further reading:

Understanding and managing eating issues on the autism spectrum by Dr Elizabeth Shea

Birmingham Food Refusal Services

Author: Dr Elizabeth Shea

Date added: 21 March 2015 



Mon, 29/08/2016 - 11:47

We must also not overlook the risks of anorexia, particularly where the individual’s social-communication differences may make it difficult to verbalise any body shape or weight concerns.

Careful assessment is therefore recommended, taking into account age, developmental stage, learning and risk factors such as gender or bullying. As our knowledge grows it is likely that we will have better clinical tools. This will reduce the risk of misdiagnosis and increase our ability to successfully support individuals with autism to eat well.