An Interview: A mom with a child who has autism and overcomes food challenges.

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October 2, 2012 by thehealthyheartcenter

A few things to keep in mind before I proceed:

  • the prevalence of childhood obesity has increased dramatically the last two decades
  • autism is a developmental disorder that has an onset in childhood (usually by 3 years of age), which can have cognitive, social, motor, and behavioral implications
  • the prevalence of obesity in children with autism is 30.4% compared to 23.6% of children without autism

Working with a patient who has autism at The Healthy Heart Center and his mother has been one of the most fulfilling experiences of my professional career as a dietitian.  It was a pleasure being able to interview her and I hope that you find this information useful either for yourself, a friend, or a friend of a friend who may be struggling with a similar scenario.

1.  How old was your child when he was diagnosed with autism?

“My child was diagnosed with autism through Child Find at the age of 2 and 1/2, so about 6 years ago”.

2.  What is the biggest challenge you face every day with a child whom has autism?

“He doesn’t like to try new foods; the textures often bother him, sometimes it’s the shape or the color of the foods that he doesn’t like.  He is unable to communicate the things that he doesn’t like about food, instead, he just says that he doesn’t like it.”

3.  Please describe how these behaviors have affected his health overall.

“He is overweight because of the food that he chooses to eat and because of his food limitations as a result of being a picky eater.  One of the problems we have faced because of his weight is high cholesterol.”

4.  What would you recommend to parents of children whom have autism when it comes to food challenges?

“Definitely get a dietitian involved whom understands how difficult it is with a child who has autism or special needs.  See them on a regular basis with regular visits.  Check out parent support groups in your area.  There is also a book called “Eating for Autism” by Elizabeth Strickland that outlines a step-by-step process of food therapy.  Dr. Doreen Granpeesheh has additional resources including DVDs, books, and publications with speaking engagements nationwide to help children and their families.  Do not give up; just continue to do what you’re doing.  Each day is a battle, but do not give up.”

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Reference: Curtin et al.  BMC Pediatrics 2010, 10:11.  http://biomedcentral.com/1471-2431/10/11

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Authors

Dr. Wali Gauvin

Kendra Fink RD CPT

Jessica Griffin: Intern

Julianna Yi: Intern

Marielle Mangano: Intern

Jackie Page: Intern

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