Many of us enjoy our mealtime. But, for autistic people, mealtime could be difficult due to their diverse sensory experiences. Sensory experiences relating to eating difficulties include touch/texture, sound/noise, smell and even the eating environment.
Autism Voice held the Food and Autism workshop on 27th February to inform parents/carers, autistic adults and professionals about the different sensory experiences that could affect mealtime and suggest ways of supporting autistic people to eat healthy and help improve their health and wellbeing.
Delivered by Nutritionist Norah Brasington, the workshop covered causes of eating difficulties in autistic people, triggers of eating difficulties, Food allergies and intolerance and transition to healthy eating- supporting the autistic child to eat healthy, support mechanisms, negotiation, motivation and rewards.
Attendees to the workshop were pleased to learn about healthy food that are good for their mental and physical wellbeing, practical tips for helping the autistic child try new food and sensory and environmental experiences that could affect mealtime and the eating experiences of autistic people.
For the neuro-diverse person, sensory experiences relating to touch may include enjoying the texture of some food and/or disliking others. Smell can be intense and overpowering or no sense of it at all, they may taste to get the smell. Taste related sensory experiences may involve like for spicy food, some may find some flavour too strong and overpowering, certain textures cause discomfort, some may limit themselves to bland food or crave very strong-tasting food. Sound sensitivity could include noise being magnified, partial hearing or total deafness, inability to cut out sounds, might enjoy eating in a crowded place or a quiet place. You may find some autistic children enjoying eating with the family while others may prefer eating on their own. All these sensory experiences could affect the eating experience or mealtime of the autistic person. Planning the right support is very important and should take all the above into consideration.
“The information gathered here today will help me understand my child better” ~Sandra