Many children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) have co-occurring feeding problems. However, there is limited knowledge about how these feeding habits are related to other behavioral characteristics ubiqitious in ASD. In a relatively large sample of 256 children with ASD, ages 2–11, we examined the relationships between feeding and mealtime behaviors and social, communication, and cognitive levels as well repetitive and ritualistic behaviors, sensory behaviors, and externalizing and internalizing behaviors. Finally, we examined whether feeding habits were predictive of nutritional adequacy. In this sample, we found strong associations between parent reported feeding habits and (1) repetitive and ritualistic behaviors, (2) sensory features, and (3) externalizing and internalizing behavior. There was a lack of association between feeding behaviors and the social and communication deficits of ASD and cognitive levels. Increases in the degree of problematic feeding behaviors predicted decrements in nutritional adequacy.
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Funding for this study was through Autism Speaks and cooperative agreement (UA3 MC 11054) from HRSA to the Massachusetts General Hospital. The views expressed in this presentation do not necessarily reflect the views of Autism Speaks or HRSA. Additional support for this study was through UL1 RR 024160 from the National Center for Research Resources (NCRR), a component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and NIH Roadmap for Medical Research.
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Johnson, C.R., Turner, K., Stewart, P.A. et al. Relationships Between Feeding Problems, Behavioral Characteristics and Nutritional Quality in Children with ASD. J Autism Dev Disord 44, 2175–2184 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-014-2095-9
- Feeding problems
- Mealtime behaviors