Due to sensory processing differences and rigidity of thought some autistic learners experience difficulties in eating a varied and healthy balanced diet. They may:
- Have a restricted diet
- Eat only a limited range of food
- Experience eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa
Their sensory processing issue may make them over or under-sensitive to sights, sounds, smells, tastes and textures. This will understandably affect their relationship with food and can cause them to experience anxiety around food, including how it is presented. They can also be affected by the environment in which they eat their food, for example a noisy school diner hall may be overwhelming for them.
- Discuss this with the family and learner
- Consider if there are any physical /medical reasons why the individual may experience difficulties with eating
- Be aware of any sensory issues with food, utensils or the room which impact on the autistic learner
- Introduce new foods sensitively and gradually.