Kelly Tanner, Jane Case-Smith, Marcia Nahikian-Nelms, Karen Ratliff-Schaub, Colleen Spees, Amy R. Darragh; Behavioral and Physiological Factors Associated With Selective Eating in Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder. Am J Occup Ther 2015;69(6):6906180030. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2015.019273
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Selective eating is common in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), but it is not yet well understood. The objectives of this study were to examine a new definition of selective eating, compare behavioral measures between children with ASD and selective eating and those without selective eating, and determine relationships among behavioral measures and measures of selective eating. Participants were assigned to groups on the basis of number of foods eaten compared with a population-based sample. Results of one-way multivariate analysis of variance indicated no overall effect of group for challenging behaviors, sensory reactivity, or repetitive behaviors. Between-participant tests indicated that scores for compulsive behaviors were significantly lower (p = .036) for the selective eating group. Correlations were moderately strong among variables relating to food intake and behavioral variables, but were not significant between selective eating and behavioral variables. Further research is needed to validate the definition of selective eating and to identify targets for intervention.
It may not be possible to identify a “typical” behavioral profile of children with ASD and selective eating.
Clinicians must conduct a thorough interdisciplinary evaluation of each child to assess anxiety, sensory reactivity, other potential physiological causes, and non-food-related challenging and repetitive behaviors.
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