An Assessment of Food Acceptance in Children with Autism or Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified


Some children with autism and pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS) have been reported to have atypical feeding behavior, such as sensitivity to food texture and selective preferences for particular foods. No systematic studies of feeding behavior in this population have been published. Munk and Repp (1994) developed methods for assessing feeding problems in individuals with cognitive and physical disabilities that allow categorization of individual feeding patterns based on responses to repeated presentations of food. In this study, we systematically replicated the Munk and Repp procedures with children with autism and PDD-NOS. Thirty children, ages 3 to 14 years, were exposed to 12 food items across 6 sessions. Food acceptance, food expulsion, and disruptive behavior were recorded on a trial-by-trial basis. Approximately half of the participants exhibited patterns of food acceptance, indicating selectivity by food category or food texture. Others consistently accepted or rejected items across food categories. Whether these patterns of food acceptance are atypical remains to be determined by comparison with the feeding patterns of typically developing children and other children with developmental delays.

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Ahearn, W.H., Castine, T., Nault, K. et al. An Assessment of Food Acceptance in Children with Autism or Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified. J Autism Dev Disord 31, 505–511 (2001).

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  • feeding assessment
  • selective eating
  • autism spectrum disorder