Autism Spectrum Disorder & Eating

By February 20, 2020 One Comment

ASD, or also known as Autism Spectrum Disorder is a developmental disorder that impairs the ability to interact and communicate. 

Characteristics of ASD include 🡪

  • Difficulty communicating and understanding things
  • Difficulty interacting with other people
  • Focusing on detail rather than generalising (love for routines and rituals)
  • Sometimes obsessive interests
  • Sometimes spikes of talent and ability in key areas

These above factors can play a significant role in a Dietitians job to ensure that those with ASD are eating as well as they can be, for a healthy and happy life. It is important to ensure that Dietitians are on the same level as someone with ASD, so that their treatment is tailored exactly to their needs, as this disorder can affect dietary quality and longevity.


People with ASD also have common feeding difficulties associated with their disorder. These include:

  • Transition to textures
  • Decreased acceptance of foods over time
  • Strong preference for foods of certain colour, packaging and food temperature
  • Not feeling/recognising hunger & thirst
  • Uncomfortable in some mealtime environments
  • Preference for consistent presentation of foods
  • Increased sensitivity to smell and taste

All of these factors can put those with ASD at risk of not meeting their nutritional requirements, as they may hinder their ability to achieve their goals, but Dietitians who have experience working with ASD are able to work around these factors.


Does someone you know have ASD? Here are some handy tips for effective communication that you may or may not know to ensure that you can be on the same level as them.

  • Keep language simple
  • Use clear, short phrases
  • Give time to process information
  • Avoid sarcasm and idioms
  • Be aware of people with ASD taking things literally – avoid providing rigid rules unless you are wanting this person to stick to them.
  • Provide visual supports whenever possible

For further Dietetic related advice for ASD, Appetite for Nutrition’s Dietitians are all registered with NDIS to provide dietary related and evidence based support in the comfort of your own home.



One Comment

  • Angela Young says:

    I am looking for a Dietitian to help my 33 year old son. He has ASD and has always had preferences to certain foods around taste, texture, smell. We had help early on but it would always end in tears, especially the other children. We’ve tried to manage this
    ourselves but after a blood test last year showed a cholesterol level of 5, we only bought
    low fat and tried to limit his meat intake. This year, cholesterol level is over 6. I immediately
    rang NDIS to ask if a Dietitian could be included in his Plan but have had no help, just kept
    saying it’s not a medical issue, which it is now. I spoke to an OT yesterday and she suggested contacting you and seeing if you can help. The OT is preparing a report and I am sure our Doctor will write one.
    Regards, Angie Young (Mother of Cameron)

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