Children with autism are often picky eaters, and we recognize that there are many reasons as to why a child with autism may avoid eating specific foods. In fact, children with autism are five times more likely to have mealtime challenges than other children. These challenges might include tantrums or refusing to eat certain foods. However, at Camp Worth, we not only provide nutritious meals during your child’s time here, but our behavioral therapists work with your child in ASD therapy programs to develop positive behaviors at meals. We can tailor our meals to your child’s dietary restrictions and needs, as well. In our food and nutrition program, we will teach your child coping skills and strategies for mealtime.
Food and Nutrition Program for Autism
What is the link between nutrition and autism? For many children with autism, mealtime can be stressful. One common symptom of autism spectrum disorder is an extreme sensitivity to sensory stimuli, which could include smell and taste. Many children on the spectrum also have strong preferences for certain foods or need to have a specific mealtime ritual in order to eat. This might include needing to use the same plate or utensil or having food arranged in a certain way. Typical preferences for food might also be exaggerated in children with autism.
Research shows that for many people with autism, their preferences can lean towards food heavy in carbohydrates or processed foods. This can lead to nutritional deficiencies or unhealthy weight gain. Some medical conditions can also lead to problems for children with autism at mealtime. These might include cavities or gastrointestinal issues.
However, a food and nutrition program can help children with autism learn new skills and coping strategies for mealtimes.
Nutritional Therapy for Autism
At Camp Worth, we use a team approach in all of our programs. Your child’s therapist, board-certified behavior technician, and other professionals on our staff work together to provide the best outcome for your child. This also applies to our food and nutrition program. This comprehensive approach ensures consistency across everything your child does while at Camp Worth.
Some of our strategies include consistency even when introducing a new food, using visual schedules, and encouraging flexibility around new foods. Visual schedules are useful for children who have difficulty adjusting to new schedules. Children with autism can also struggle with their fine and gross motor skills. During occupational therapy, they will work on using cups, forks, and other utensils. These skills can also transfer to mealtime.
Our Food and Nutrition Center for Autism in Fort Worth, Texas
At our residential adolescent autism treatment center, we offer a variety of treatments and therapies to help teens on the autism spectrum succeed. Our goal is to help your child learn the skills and tools they need to become more independent and happy. Some of the programs we offer along with our food and nutrition program include:
- Applied behavior analysis program – ABA therapy uses research-backed methods to make positive changes in behavior
- Education program – If traditional classrooms are frustrating or stressful for your child, our certified special education teachers can provide uniquely tailored instruction
- Autism parent training program – In parent training, we can teach you skills to use at home with your child to reinforce positive behaviors
- Speech therapy – Our therapists help your child build both verbal and non-verbal communication skills
- Occupational therapy – Through targeted activities, your child will learn skills to accomplish daily activities
- Medication management – Our staff clinicians administer medications and monitor their effectiveness