Is Your Child a Picky Eater?

Therapies and Resources for Children with Autism & Families

Many children are picky eaters, with strong preferences about what they will and will not eat. Children with autism are even more likely to make mealtime a challenge. As you try to promote healthy and positive eating habits for your children, you may become discouraged when your child with autism exhibits extreme fussiness regarding the foods you serve. You may experience meal-related tantrums, extremely narrow food selections, eating behaviors, such as eating only one food item at a time, or ensuring foods do not touch. Keep these things in mind when dealing with your picky eater:

First, rule out any medical issues. It could be possible that your child is refusing to eat a food because he or she knows it will cause a stomachache, potentially from a gastrointestinal issue. It is important to rule a medical issue out before encouraging your child to eat a certain refused food.

Expect that you will need to introduce a new food many times. Your child may be hesitant to try new things, like unfamiliar social situations or activities. It makes sense then that your child would also be hesitant to try a new food. You may need to slowly introduce your child to new food items by letting him explore it first, such as smelling it, describing it, touching it, and so on. Getting him to take a taste may not come first, and probably not the first time you introduce a food.

Keep in mind that it might be an issue of texture or temperature, not taste. Some children prefer foods of a certain consistency or texture, whether it is crunchy or smooth. If your child has a heightened sensitivity to texture, she may not like bananas simply because she doesn’t like how a mushy banana feels in her mouth. You can change the texture of many foods by blending them-such as a smoothie-or incorporating them into other foods, such as blending vegetables into a tomato-based sauce over pasta. Another issue might be temperature. If your child doesn’t like hot foods, she may prefer a hot soup to come to room temperature before eating.

We recommend always consulting your family physician or a nutrition specialist if you have concerns about your child’s eating habits. Our team at Peak Potential Therapy is also here to provide caring support and guidance. Give us a call today.