Picky eating redefined: exploring the extreme food behaviour and feeding environment challenges in children with autism spectrum disorder.
Prosser, Sarah Jean Kathryn
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The most recent evidence indicates that 1 out of every 68 children has Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) (Center for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2014) emphasizing the importance of understanding ASD from multi-disciplinary perspectives. This qualitative, exploratory study focused on parental experiences with food behaviours and feeding environments of preschool-aged children diagnosed with ASD. Semi-structured one-on-one, interviews were conducted with 8 parents. Findings identified challenges to feeding/eating; the perceived influence of these challenges on the health of each child; and factors affecting care/supportive services. Recommendations call for increased knowledge and education related to the food behaviours and feeding environments experienced by families of children with ASD and individuals providing care to children with ASD. Areas for future research include exploring the severity of feeding challenges; specialized education of supportive service providers, dietitians, parents and families; and the use of effective strategies when facilitating feeding; and the effect of ASD on children’s health outcomes.