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Relationships Between Feeding Problems, Behavioral Characteristics And Nutritional Quality In Children With ASD

Cynthia R. Johnson, Kylan S Turner, Patricia A. Stewart, B. Schmidt, A. Shui, E. Macklin, A. Reynolds, J. James, Susan L Johnson, Patty Manning Courtney, S. Hyman
Published 2014 · Psychology, Medicine

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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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