Children with autism are five times more likely to develop food aversions that negatively affect their health than children without autism. Unfortunately, many parents will turn to unhealthy foods to satisfy their child’s fussiness when their autism and picky eating habits create frustration at mealtime. If your teen is a picky eater and you are concerned about their health, getting them into a food and nutrition program can give them positive eating habits and teach you how to introduce new foods without any negative behavior.
At Camp Worth, our in-person autism treatment center in Fort Worth for teens age 11 – 17 has the experienced staff to work with your teen’s eating habits and teach them skills and coping mechanisms for mealtime. If your mealtimes are stressful because of your teen’s picky eating habits, call 855.915.2545 or complete our online form today to learn more about our therapy programs and how they can help with your teen’s autism and picky eating.
How Are Autism and Picky Eating Related?
Teens with autism tend to stick to only two or three food types. Generally, these are breaded foods like chicken nuggets, pasta, cookies, and bread. Their eating habits form at an early age. By the time most parents recognize a problem, their attempts to introduce new foods typically fail due to negative behavior at mealtimes. Some common signs of autism and picky eating include:
- Narrow food selections
- Sensitivity to textures and temperatures
- Ritualistic eating habits
- Meal-related tantrums
Learning How to Handle Autism and Food Aversions
You can try some simple techniques to help introduce new foods into your teen with ASD’s diet. Before trying any new foods, check with your doctor to ensure there are no food restrictions with any medications they are taking. Some of the techniques you can use include:
- Rule out medical problems – Ensure your teen does not have any gastrointestinal issues that can cause some food to make their stomach ache. They may like the new food, but their stomach does not.
- Stay calm when they refuse to eat something new – It may take some time for your teen to get used to different food. Stay calm when they are more fussy than usual, and they will accept the new food over time.
- Introduce new food slowly – Let your teen touch and feel any new food. Have them put it to their lips and tongue to get them used to the new taste and sensation.
- Textured foods can cause problems – Many food aversions in teens with ASD come from a dislike of certain textures and how they feel in their mouths. Try introducing textured food in different shapes and sizes.
- Play with new foods – Introducing new food through games is always fun and associates happiness with that new food, making it easier for them to want to try it.
- Offer a variety of choices – Teens who like their food a particular shape or color can be particularly picky eaters. Try matching new foods to the shapes and colors they are familiar with as a way to introduce different foods.
Choose the Food and Nutrition Program at Camp Worth for Your Teen with Autism
At Camp Worth, our residential autism treatment center for teens ages 11 – 17 can help with any food aversions they may have developed as a child and teach your teen and you about healthy eating habits and practices in our food and nutrition program. Our holistic approach to treating your teen has proven very effective when treating the person and not the disease. Along with your teen’s food and nutrition program, other treatment options may include:
- Counseling and behavioral analysis
- Education program
- Autism parent training program
- Speech therapy
- Medication management
If your teen with autism is a picky eater and not getting enough nutrition in their diet, call 855.915.2545 or contact us online today to learn more about our food and nutrition program and how it can help with your teen’s autism and food aversions.