Autism And Nutrition

Nadia Shanab | autism, general advice, parenting, tips
18 Jul 2015

Studies found that individuals with autism, both kids and adults, frequently suffer from digestion disorders, or being underweight or overweight. We know that one of the most common traits of autism is rigidity and love for routine. This may results in sticking to the same type of food and limiting the kinds of nutrients the body is receiving.

Besides, some behaviors related to meals time may also affect the eating habits. For example, wanting to always sit in the same spot, using the same plate, spoon, cup, tablecloth, at specific times.

Additionally, some avoid certain foods because they suffer form sensory issues (like the color, shape, smell, taste, touch and texture of certain foods) which may cause deficiencies in vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients

One more reason why individuals with autism suffer disrupted digestion is the antibiotics treatments they may have taken for an ear or chest infection when they were young before being diagnosed with autism. Antibiotics can kill the bad bacteria and the good gut bacteria too, and hence the a digestion problem emerges.

Unfortunately, the autistic behavior can negatively impact the eating habits, and consequently the individual’s health. The most common deficient nutrients in individuals with autism are: folate, vitamin B-6, B-12, and essential fats. Some research believe these deficiencies may be considered biomarkers to diagnose autism.

A Link Found Between Autism and Vitamin D Deficiency


  • A health provider can help you discover nutrients (vitamins, supplements, or others) deficiencies.
  • Test for food allergies.
  • Test for toxins and heavy metals, like lead.
  • Avoid food coloring and preservatives.
  • Set a specific discipline for meals time.
  • Teach table manners.
  • Be consistent about applying the rules you set.
  • Create a menu with your child’s help to set expectations and avoid undesired behavior around the table.
  • Gradually introduce new foods with limited amount, for testing and tasting purposes.
  • Associate unwanted foods to the ones your child likes.
  • Create a reward system, for every time your child tries something new. You may use sticker charts.
  • Consult with GI (Gastrointestinal) specialist to find the cause of digestion disorders.
  • Try gluten free and casein free diet.

Unfortunately, not enough research has been done in this regard, but food is a fundamental factor affecting people’s health.

Sources: Autism Speaks

Source: Today’s Dietitian

nadia shanab

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