Jeanne Zobel-Lachiusa, Mary V. Andrianopoulos, Zoe Mailloux, Sharon A. Cermak; Sensory Differences and Mealtime Behavior in Children With Autism. Am J Occup Ther 2015;69(5):6905185050. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2015.016790
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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.
Do children diagnosed with ASD demonstrate significantly greater sensory differences when compared with their age-matched TD peers?
Do children diagnosed with ASD show significantly greater difficulty in mealtime behavior when compared with their age-matched TD peers?
Are there significant correlations between sensory differences and mealtime behaviors in the ASD and TD groups?
Children with ASD experience significantly more difficulty with mealtime behaviors than TD children.
Sensory differences in children with ASD may be one factor that interferes with mealtime behavior.
Sensory differences and mealtime problem behaviors may be reduced by occupational therapy interventions. As Ayres (1979) originally elucidated, occupational therapy interventions that directly address underlying sensory differences may contribute to functional improvements such as greater mealtime success, increased comfort, and less stress during mealtimes.
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