Rethinking Autism and “Picky Eating”

Published by: Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism
Written by: “Seeking Sara”

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been ashamed of what I do and don’t eat. The stigma of being a “picky eater” has followed me my whole life, bringing comments (and no small amount of exasperation) from family, friends, wait staff, and strangers.

I’ve recently been examining why I struggle with certain foods, and have come to the same conclusion as I have with much of my post-autism-diagnosis self-exploration: I’m actually incredibly strong, and my experiences are real and valid.

Why am I so “picky”? Well, if you could experience my senses for a few hours, I bet you’d be more understanding, less judgmental, and I’m fairly certain you’d stop using the word “picky” pretty quickly.

Often times, I want desperately to like a food, to be able to order anything at random, or to just eat whatever is put in front of me without hesitation. But for me, food is almost always a relentlessly overpowering experience. Click here to read the rest of the story.

RESOURCES

4 techniques for picky eaters with autism

8 secret strategies for sensory issues with food

Autism and food issues

Encouraging picky eaters to try new food

How to help your child with autism overcome picky eating

Mealtime and children on the autism spectrum: Beyond picky, fussy, and fads

Picky vs. problem eater: A closer look at sensory processing disorder

The picky eater

When your child with autism is a picky eater

Why children with autism struggle with eating

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Signs of Autism and Down Syndrome

Studies show that 5 to 39% of children with Down syndrome are also on the autism spectrum. There are overlaps in some of the symptoms which delays the signs and symptoms of autism. This observation is slowly growing and informing parents to look for specific signs and symptoms.

The importance of getting the diagnosis
Most often children with Down syndrome are treated for the characteristics of having Down syndrome which overlooks giving children the appropriate treatment for Autism such as social skills and sensory issues. A child or young adult with both diagnosis will likely experience aggressive behaviors, meltdowns, and show signs of regression during their early development. The following are signs and symptoms to look for in your child, or student:
  • Hand flapping
  • Picky eater
  • Echolalia
  • Fascination with lights
  • Staring at ceiling fans
  • History of regression
  • Head banging
  • Strange vocalization
  • Anxiety
  • Seizure Disorder

If you suspect your child is dual diagnosed, make an appointment for a medical work up which should include:

  • audiological evaluation
  • lead test
  • complete blood count (CBC)
  • Liver function test
  • EEG