Supplying the best eating disorder treatment possible for children with autism and other developmental disabilities

Who Needs Treatment

Many different kinds of children have been treated through our program in the past, and we provide a welcoming environment for them all. Don't feel that you're alone if your child has a feeding disorder. There are many other children who are going through the same challenges. We usually treat children who have the most severe problems, which include a complete refusal to eat or deficits when it comes to skill with feeding and selective eating. You may be interested in what types of tests there available for these kinds of conditions. There are a number of medical assessments which can include: child’s diet profile and resulting nutritional problems; medications and their effects on eating; allergies and food sensitivities assessments and swallowing studies.

More medical assessment aspects for children with ASD associated to feeding and eating issues has been suggested in the recent years.  Ever since late 1990s, there has been an increasing concern and recognition for abnormal gastrointestinal functioning of a large number of people with autism spectrum disorder.

There are many things that need to be considered while looking at adult patient’s or child’s autism in relation to their eating behaviours. These may include: Bowel issues; dental issues; are food presented taken away when they cry; do they seem to register the feeling of being full or hungry; visually, do they ever respond violently to certain smells; are they adverse to foods touching other foods; do they like certain temperatures; do they only eat certain foods; extensive choking, gagging, or coughing; are there some foods they won’t eat; tantrums during food presentation; Packing, holding the bite prolong time and not swallowing; expulsion, for instance crying and spiting; pushing away a drink of bite; are there any unusual health problems; and constant vomiting after each bite.

Under different situations, pica, is a trait that can begin at any point in life. In case this behaviour persists, it will be necessary to do an evaluation in order to identify the root cause. Clearly, there should be close supervision on this child, and any substances related to pica should be kept away from him/her. Pica has many causes and treatments, and an informed expert can evaluate and address pica behaviour. 

The likely factors that can result to the occurrence of pica behaviour include: relief of anxiety, inability to differentiate non-edible substances, sensory stimulation, and nutritional deficiencies. Occasionally, replacing edible and/or sensual stimulating replacements can be a solution to pica, in the case where it is not a serious life or health threat. It might be challenging for individuals with autism to shift from what they were doing to come to table. Moreover, establishing a regular routine might as well be difficult because of teeth problems or sore throats. Recognising certain foods, for instance a banana without its skin, can be challenging to some autism individuals, and this can be a nuisance to them. Serving food separately at the beginning can be a solution to the case where it is an issue when different foods touch each other. As time goes by, such people are likely to accept different foods served under one plate and touching each other. Often, approaching this issue gradually is best, and as time goes by, add in more textures bit by bit. Introducing taste should be done gradually, and instead of rapid presentation of certain foods like beans or potatoes, it is better to grate cheese.

Beginning to keep a record of total intake of food and beverages as well as food preferences is also likely to be a motivator. Correspondingly, it might be necessary to take into consideration some communication issues, for instance, if they are motivated to do other things when in proximity of food, how they express when they are hungry, whether the patient uses an unorthodox way to communicate, or if the patient can express exactly what he/she wants.

Ways to aid communication

It is essential to help the patients identify what they like and don’t like around food. It is necessary to develop communication systems that will match the type of skills that the patient essentially possesses. For instance, based on the individual patient’s skills, one should show photographs or pictures similar to the ones in the menus, or point to objects for him/her. Again, the situation can be solved by the ABA therapist.

There are a number of social eating consideration questions which might include:

  • Do they drink from a cup or use cutlery?
  • Do they follow any sort of routine?
  • Can they tolerate eating while sitting with other people, or they do it best when alone?
  •  Do they sit at a table to eat?

In addition, how the patients are down may be an issue, given that those with motor issues can regularly fidget on the seat. The use of cushions, light weighted waistcoat or rubber mats may assist with the issue of sitting. Coordination support often requires assistance from an ABA therapist.

Constant food refusal or eating difficulties requires evaluation of any likely medical issues in order to identify the factors that are to be addressed medically, and maximize feeding success. Nevertheless, this might not be successful as some children do not seem to have much appetite at all, and are thus incapable of feeling or interpreting hunger feeling. This lack of ability to interpret or feel hunger is puzzling and normally, calls for the families to put more effort on feeding their child given that he/she will less or not be interested on food on their own. As part of medical testing, food intolerance and food allergies need to be considered as well. The inability of a child to detect food intolerance, food allergies or hunger can as well have an impact on the eating problems and eventually health problems.

The moment medical problems have exhaustively been addressed, behavioural interventions need to be correctly designed and executed. In addition, behavioural problems, if severe, will need to be assessed and medically treated. The possible treatments may include Outpatient Programme or Intensive day Treatment Programme. Exercise that improves oral motor skills can often be prescribed by therapists, who are also capable of advising the patients’ families on the foods that improve chewing capability.  

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