Dietary tips for children with Autism

Here is what to consider when it comes to diet for those with autism spectrum disorder.

Navigating the world of nutrition can be challenging for any parent, but when it comes to children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), there are extra considerations. Carolyn Souter, Pediatric Dietitian at Amana Healthcare, an M42 company, shares her expertise with us below.


Firstly, aim to provide a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and whole grains. A variety of nutrient-dense foods will make sure that your child receives the essential vitamins and minerals they need to grow and develop. Additionally, minimise your little one’s intake of processed foods, sugary snacks and artificial additives. These aren’t great for any child, but may exacerbate symptoms associated with autism, negatively impacting your child’s general wellbeing.

Food sensitivities and aversions

Some kids with autism may be sensitive to gluten, dairy or certain other food additives, so be vigilant for this. Autistic children may also have a fear or dislike of certain foods or simply mealtimes themselves. Appropriate lighting, comfortable cutlery and dishes, and limited noise and smells can help kids feel safer and less frightened while eating.

Carolyn Souter, Pediatric Dietitian at Amana Healthcare.

Be flexible

Introducing new foods takes time and effort. Children with ASD will often have a particular food they will eat repeatedly. Although these foods may not be nutritionally adequate, be sure to offer these when introducing new foods. It’s good to try a various dishes and be open to experimentation, while also respecting your child’s preferences and sensory sensitivities.


Speak to the experts

If you’re unsure about your child’s nutritional needs or how to address specific dietary concerns, don’t hesitate to seek professional guidance for support and advice about any multivitamins, minerals or nutritional blood tests your child may need.

Establish routine

Children with autism often thrive on routine and predictability. Establishing regular meal and snack routines provides a sense of structure and predictability, helping to alleviate food anxiety. Aim to keep mealtimes to thirty minutes maximum, and never force your child to eat. Finally, remember to celebrate each small victory along the way!

Image Credit: Shutterstock & Amana Healthcare

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