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Volume 80

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Hi, I’m Craig Kendall, the author of The Asperger’s Syndrome Survival Guide. In today’s issue we will discuss…

My Child with Autism Is a Picky Eater. What Can I Do?

So your child is a picky eater. It happens to all of us at one time or another.

If you’re like most autism parents, you’re stressing out over how you’re going to get the proper nutrients into your child, and whether a diet composed exclusively of chicken nuggets and potato chips is really at all healthy.

Or, perhaps you are trying out a gluten and casein free diet and can’t figure out how to get your child to try the new foods. Here are some things that might help.   

Picky Autism Eater – Four Step Behavioral Approach

Step 1. Understand the Anxiety Your Child with Autism May Feel

Try to understand where your child’s reluctance and anxiety comes from. Does your child with autism hate the taste? The texture? The smell? The color? Imagine what you would feel like if someone told you that you had to eat, for example, a snail. Forgetting even the taste, what is that going to feel like going down? Probably about the same way a lot of common foods feel like for kids with autism! So you need to start them off small.

Step 2. Have a Favorite Food Ready as a Reward

You will need a “food reward” here, a food that the child really likes. Maybe it’s M&Ms or French fries or whatever it is. Make sure it can be divided into small portions. You will see why you need this in Step 3.

Step 3. Go Slowly, and Reward Your Child for Each Success

You take whatever the food you want the child to eat is, maybe some meat or a vegetable, and break it up into very small steps.

Step 4. Clear Out Your Cabinets…Leaving Only Preferred Foods

This may take a while, so you have to be prepared to do a lot of work. Some people advocate hiding all other foods until the child eats the desired food, but others think there is little to be gained from letting a child go hungry for longer than a few hours or a day – it would be a judgment call for you. You don’t want to starve your child with autism, you just want to encourage them to eat some foods that might be healthier for them.

Let’s say your child only will eat pizza. Make sure food that you do not want your child to eat is at least hidden from view. It will be very tough getting your child to eat vegetables if cold pizza is visible in the refrigerator.

Taking away foods may be easier than adding new foods. If that happens, don’t despair. Talk to your doctor about adding vitamins into your child’s diet to make up for any missing nutrients.

Other Tips to Solve Picky Eating for Children with Autism


It may be hard work, but if you follow these tips you will be well on your way to solving your autism child’s poor eating habits.

Additional Information on Eating Habits for children with Asperger’s or Autism

For additional information to help you your child with autism be happy and to learn other tips to solutions, see my book, The Asperger’s Syndrome Survival Guide.

7 Responses to My Child with Autism Is a Picky Eater. What Can I Do? 80

  1. Maureen Gould says:

    I gave up trying to get my Aspie grandson to eat veges unless it was a fried chip and ended up putting the cooked and mashed veges in meatballs, fish rissoles and the like. This went on for 2 years when he decided to try what we were eating and while he won’t eat everything he will eat enough variety to satisfy his requirements. We just had to wait it out.

  2. Linda-lea says:

    My son is starting not to eat out. But if i bring my food then he will eat it out. How do i get him to eat other peoples food??

  3. Marina says:

    I am an adult and I do not like lumpy things in my smooth food. Nuts in brownies or in ice cream. If it is smooth it should be smooth.

  4. Donna says:

    thank you so much for this tips for picky eaters with asperger’s. I will definitly try this with my son Ty. and your right, I always worry about if he is getting his nutrients. I appriciate all your help.

  5. Katherine Bauguss says:

    What helps with my grandson is playing the game “Three Bites and You’re Out”. He is required to take 3 small bites of every new food- if after 3 bites he really doesn’t want to eat it the food is out. If he likes it after 3 bites then the food is a winner and he’s in.

  6. Andrea says:

    My GRandson is 2 1/2 years old and doesnt eat anything but a particular cookie and milk..any tips will greatly be appreciated. He does have sensory issues.

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