What is Autism?
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neurological, developmental disorder that affects how people interact with others, communicate, learn, and behave. Although Autism can be diagnosed at any age, it is usually diagnosed within the first two years of life, when symptoms appear. This is why is can be described as a ‘developmental disorder’.
Autism is known as a ‘spectrum’ disorder because there is wide variation in the type and severity of symptoms that people experience.
Research suggests that early diagnosis can help caregivers determine which services, educational programs, and therapies are most likely to be helpful for their child; these include Nutritional Therapy and Occupational Therapy.
What is Nutritional Therapy for Autism?
Some children are put on limited diets in hopes of reducing their Autistic symptoms. It is important that parents and caregivers work with a Nutrition specialist, such as a Registered Dietitian/Clinical Nutritionist, to design a meal plan and incorporate the many challenges that come about with food sensitivities, allergies, sensory
preferences or limited food preferences.
The overall outcome is to work with the child and family to make this as simple but nutritionally balanced as possible. You will have heard of various diets or supplementation aimed at children on the Autistic Spectrum, but there is no ‘one way fits all’ and at every stage we will aim to address these and evaluate the outcomes.
We know that Autism is not caused by malnutrition or food-related challenges, but, for many people, there is a connection between Autism and food. Research suggests that food-related challenges have a significant impact on many people who are diagnosed with ASD, because some crucial nutrients cannot be activated, are poorly absorbed, or can build up in toxic loads and as a result, sometimes the body cannot flush them out. Some very significant pathways such as methylation, oxidation, inflammation and detoxification can be off track.
If you think you or your child could benefit from this and wish to work with our Clinical Nutritionist, please contact the clinic and make an appointment with Stephanie Karl.
For documents and relevant information please see below:
Nutrition Programme For ASD PDF Guide
Why it is important to combine Occupational Therapy with Nutritional Therapy for Autistic children?
Children on the spectrum can present with a number of difficulties and symptoms that impact, function, motor planning, coordination, posture and the sensory processing systems. Filtering sensory information can become overwhelming and uncomfortable.Experiencing sensory stimuli differently from the neurotypical population is known as sensory processing differences. More than 80% of people with ASD have impaired sensory processing or modulation, which can have a direct impact on their functionality and many aspects of daily life such as playing, social activities, self-care, and learning.
Research shows that there is a relationship between sensory processing and a range of eating behaviours, as well as, evidence for the role of taste/smell sensitivities. Eating can be a particularly difficult activity for children with ASD due to sensitivity to food textures and also the difficulty to try unfamiliar food. Adapting an individual with Autisms’ diet can prove difficult without the combine work and knowledge of Occupational Therapy.
Occupational Therapists can assess and provide interventions to support children who have difficulty with food selectivity, increasing the number of foods consumed and accepted, as well as reducing the number of situations of inappropriate feeding behaviour.
For an evaluation and treatment plan with specialist Occupational Therapist, Crystal Graham, please contact the Optimal Clinic.