Autism spectrum disorders comprise a complex set of related developmental disorders that are characterized by impairments in communication, social interaction, and repetitive behaviors. Impairments in sensory processing are also extremely common. The prevalence of autism spectrum disorders is increasing and is currently estimated to affect 1 in 150 children. Autism spectrum disorders are considered to be a major health and educational problem, affecting many areas of daily living, including eating. Children with autism spectrum disorders are often described as picky or selective eaters. This article provides a comprehensive narrative review of the empirical literature over the last 25 years on food selectivity and nutritional adequacy in children with autism spectrum disorders. The possible contributions of sensory factors, such as sensory sensitivity, to food selectivity are discussed. The need for an interdisciplinary approach to managing atypical eating patterns in children with autism spectrum disorders is highlighted.
Copyright 2010 American Dietetic Association. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.