Research Article  |   September 2015
Sensory Differences and Mealtime Behavior in Children With Autism
Author Affiliations
  • Jeanne Zobel-Lachiusa, EdD, MA, OTR/L, is Assistant Professor, BayPath University, Longmeadow, MA; jzobel@baypath.edu
  • Mary V. Andrianopoulos, PhD, is Associate Professor, Department of Communication Disorders, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
  • Zoe Mailloux, OTD, OTR/L, FAOTA, is Adjunct Associate Professor, Department of Occupational Therapy, Jefferson School of Health Professions, Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, PA, and Program and Professional Development Consultant in Private Practice, Redondo Beach, CA
  • Sharon A. Cermak, EdD, OTR/L, FAOTA, is Professor of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy, Ostrow School of Dentistry, University of Southern California (USC), Los Angeles, and Professor of Pediatrics, USC Keck School of Medicine and Children’s Hospital, Los Angeles, CA
Article Information
Autism/Autism Spectrum Disorder / Pediatric Evaluation and Intervention / Special Issue on Autism: Research Articles
Research Article   |   September 2015
Sensory Differences and Mealtime Behavior in Children With Autism
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, September 2015, Vol. 69, 6905185050p1-6905185050p8. doi:10.5014/ajot.2015.016790
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, September 2015, Vol. 69, 6905185050p1-6905185050p8. doi:10.5014/ajot.2015.016790
Abstract

This study examined sensory differences and mealtime behaviors in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD; n = 34) and compared the results with those of similarly aged peers who were typically developing (TD; n = 34). Results from parent-report and child-report questionnaires indicated that children with ASD scored significantly differently from TD peers on the measures of sensory differences and eating behaviors. Data also supported a correlation between sensory differences and eating difficulties in children with ASD. The results of this study will help caregivers and their children with ASD identify problem eating behaviors that may be associated with sensory differences. Sensory strategies and techniques offered by occupational therapy practitioners may contribute to greater success during mealtimes for children with ASD and their families, with increased comfort and less stress. The findings also support a need to further explore the influence of sensory differences on mealtime behaviors.