Sunday, April 30, 2023

Eating disorders in children with autism

Eating disorders:

Eating disorders are relatively common in children with autism. It is important to take care of it in time to avoid possible nutritional deficiencies and complications.
Eating disorders are an everyday reality for children with autism. It can have a variety of causes, although it is usually secondary to the changes characteristic of this disorder. Indeed, they occur one way or another, with varying degrees of intensity.

It should be remembered that autism spectrum disorders are a group of disorders of the central nervous system that affect brain function. Usually appearing during childhood, neurological functioning problems translate into difficulties in the areas of social interaction and communication skills.

Factors associated with eating disorders in children with autism:

The food industry is one of those affected in autism. Its origin is related to the following points:

  • Perceptual changes, which result in hypersensitivity or hypersensitivity to certain textures, tastes, odors, or food colors.
  • Limited and restricted interests.
  • repetitive behaviours.
  • Difficulty fully integrating sensory perceptions.
  • Major eating disorders in children with autism.
  • Feeding children with autism can be complex.

Therefore, the effect on diet can manifest itself in several ways. What are the main eating disorders in children with this disease?

Little variety in the diet:

Because of the limited choice of foods and the intense aversions that some can arouse, the diets of children with autism may have little variety. Rejection can be for specific foods, for a whole group, foods of a certain color or texture, etc. They also tend to prefer one type of preparation or presentation. In general, and by no means the norm for all children, they tend to prefer red, yellow or orange foods, while the textures most rejected are grainy, sticky and astringent.

Insufficient quantities:

Children with autism find it difficult to focus on one task for long periods of time, which can make it difficult for them to sit at the table from starter to dessert. If we add to this what we have seen, their diet may be insufficient in terms of energy and nutrients. Moreover, in some cases, it can be difficult to define the roles of authority and accept the restrictions imposed. Thus, it is the children themselves who fully control their diet, so they choose what to eat and what not to eat and in what quantities.

Food aversion caused by classical negative conditioning:

Classical conditioning is the presence of a stimulus response that emerges as the product of an experience. As a result, it is common to have an aversion or rejection of certain foods if the child's subsequent experience after trying them for the first time is negative. Negative experiences can be such as abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, etc. Discomfort resulting from anger or struggling to eat.

Medication issues:

Some of the medications used to treat autism spectrum disorders affect children's feeding. They cause a decrease or increase in appetite and can prevent the absorption of certain vitamins or minerals. This is why it is important to know the side effects of treatment. And discuss it with specialists in the treatment of children.

Frequent gastrointestinal disorders:

Children with autism often have certain symptoms related to their digestive system and diet. These include the following, abdominal pain, chronic diarrhea or constipation, reflux, flatulence, vomiting.

Restricting the consumption of certain fruits and vegetables can lead to a diet that is too low in fiber, which ultimately leads to causing constipation issues. Likewise, difficulty chewing and insufficient chewing can lead to indigestion and gas.

Is it necessary to intervene in food problems?

In the face of any eating disorder in children with autism, it is imperative to act as quickly as possible. Although it may not be considered a priority, deficiencies during childhood can lead to cases of malnutrition or nutritional deficiencies. Such a situation will be an additional problem for the correct development and growth of children. A meta-analysis of scientific studies found that the diet of children with autism was lower in protein and calcium than children without autism.

Therefore, it is important to pay attention to any problem related to nutrition in order to find an appropriate solution in each case. In addition, specialists emphasize the need for a diet tailored to each child (their preferences and desires) as well as to control their nutritional status. It will be possible to avoid digestive problems and prevent possible future problems associated with a poor diet.

Eating disorders in children with autism require special attention:

Managing eating disorders that occur in children with autism is essential to avoid complications during their growth and development process. Thus, any abnormality in eating behavior is a reason to consult pediatricians, nutritionists and other specialists.