Mothers’ Challenges in Feeding their Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder—Managing More Than Just Picky Eating

  • Laura G. RogersEmail author
  • Joyce Magill-Evans
  • Gwen R. Rempel
Original Article


Mothers’ perspectives of the processes involved in addressing the feeding challenges of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) were explored qualitatively. The research question was: What is the process of mothers’ feeding their children with an ASD who have feeding challenges, and specifically what is the nature of these challenges? Data were from semi-structured interviews with 11 mothers of 12 children with ASD ranging from 4–11 years. This grounded theory study used constant comparative analysis in developing categories to define the processes mothers used in understanding and then meeting the feeding needs of their children with ASD. Four feeding processes emerged from the analysis. 1) recognizing the feeding challenges, 2) defining the underlying nature of the feeding challenges, 3) seeking support for and validation of the feeding challenges, and 4) staging their approach. The feeding challenges had three different patterns of onset and went beyond typical picky eating behaviors.


Autism Picky eating Feeding Eating behavior Grounded theory 



Sincere thanks to the participants for their insight, enthusiasm and willingness to share their experiences. We acknowledge Dr. Lonnie Zwaigenbaum’s guidance as a member of the first author’s graduate committee and his dedication to children and families impacted by autism. Funding acknowledgments: Canadian Institutes of Health Research Autism Research Training Program, Margaret Brine Scholarship, Canadian Occupational Therapy Foundation Invacare Master’s Scholarship, Gauk-Westfield Award, and Alberta Advanced Education Award.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Laura G. Rogers
    • 1
    • 4
    • 5
    Email author
  • Joyce Magill-Evans
    • 2
  • Gwen R. Rempel
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.Faculty of NursingUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada
  2. 2.Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine, Department of Occupational TherapyUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada
  3. 3.Department of Pediatrics, Faculty of Medicine and DentistryUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada
  4. 4.Faculty of Rehabilitation MedicineUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada
  5. 5.University of AlbertaEdmontonCanada

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