Food Selectivity and Sensory Sensitivity in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders

      Abstract

      Autism spectrum disorders comprise a complex set of related developmental disorders that are characterized by impairments in communication, social interaction, and repetitive behaviors. Impairments in sensory processing are also extremely common. The prevalence of autism spectrum disorders is increasing and is currently estimated to affect 1 in 150 children. Autism spectrum disorders are considered to be a major health and educational problem, affecting many areas of daily living, including eating. Children with autism spectrum disorders are often described as picky or selective eaters. This article provides a comprehensive narrative review of the empirical literature over the last 25 years on food selectivity and nutritional adequacy in children with autism spectrum disorders. The possible contributions of sensory factors, such as sensory sensitivity, to food selectivity are discussed. The need for an interdisciplinary approach to managing atypical eating patterns in children with autism spectrum disorders is highlighted.
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      Biography

      S. A. Cermak is a professor in the Division of Science and Occupational Therapy, University of Southern California, Los Angeles; at the time of the writing of this article, she was the director of Occupational Therapy Training at the UMMS-Shriver Center Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (LEND) Program, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Waltham, MA

      Biography

      C. Curtin is a research assistant professor in Family Medicine and Community Health at the University of Massachusetts Medical School—E. K. Shriver Center, Waltham, MA

      Biography

      L. G. Bandini is an associate professor of pediatrics, University of Massachusetts Medical School—E. K. Shriver Center, Waltham, MA, and clinical professor, Department of Health Sciences, Boston University, Boston, MA