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If over-eating is a problem, you could try:

  • Many children/ young people with autism function better with a structured daily routine. A routine could be developed to include set times for meals and snacks.
  • Reducing food portions, and using a smaller plate.
  • Showing them the empty saucepan, confirming verbally that the food has all gone.
  • Limiting access to food by keeping it out of reach, using locks or visuals such as 'No Entry' signs on fridges and cupboards, or not buying it at all in the case of snack foods like crisps and chocolate.
  • Setting rules relating to restaurants and food shops e.g. 'If you have a starter you cannot have a pudding'.
  • Creating a food timetable, e.g. snacks at 10am, 3pm and 7pm, reducing the amount of food intake gradually.
  • Providing visual hunger and fullness scales to help with expressing and recognising cues. Discuss topics such as hunger and being full; some children and young people with autism are unable to recognise when they are full and do not always have the feeling of being full. A social story may be useful to explain portion sizes etc.
  • Physical activity: this should be part of your child's daily routine, perhaps engaging in physical activity before having a healthy snack so this becomes a reward/ incentive.
  • Choose healthier foods, you can help your child learn about smart food choices. You can create a visual aid that includes pictures of healthy nutritious foods and foods that have little nutritional value and are only to be eaten in small quantities on special occasions.

Other conditions

  • Eating can be affected by a delay in physical development or low muscle tone. You could encourage oral- motor activities that help to develop mouth and jaw movement such as using straws, blowing a whistle, blowing bubbles or using a toothbrush.

Useful resources
The National Autistic Society
Autism Speaks
See the Picky Eating advice sheet for more information

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