Many children struggle with picky eating at some point, but children with autism may have feeding issues that go above and beyond just being a picky eater. Tackling autism and food issues can be major stressors for families; not only does it have the potential for being disruptive to family life but it may lead to malnutrition, constipation, and other medical issues in severe cases. Working on feeding problems can be a daunting task but there are effective, evidence-based interventions that can help!
Two words that strike fear in most parents are toilet and training.
Toilet training, or "potty training", can be a scary process for any family but it may be particularly challenging for families of children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder. Research shows that children diagnosed with autism are often delayed in achieving toilet training success and that it may take more time to complete the toilet training process than other children. Potential barriers may include language deficits that may make it difficult for the child to say “I need to go potty!”, difficulty dressing and undressing when it is time to go, change in routines leading to negative behavior, or having aversions to the noises, smells, and bright lights that are associated with bathroom time.
If you’ve ever felt the fear of realizing that your child is missing, you know it is a feeling you never forget. Parents know, and research confirms, that children with autism are more likely to “wander” or “elope” – in other words, they will leave their house or immediate area without alerting an adult.
Applied Behavior Analysis, or “ABA,” is the use of scientific principles of behavior and learning to change or improve a child’s interactions with other people and items in his or her environment. Applied Behavior Analysis is an evidence based practice, meaning decades of research have shown that the strategies are effective in changing behavior. We know this to be true, because a good Applied Behavior Analysis program has specific goals and data to support whether a child is making progress towards those goals!