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Autism Speaks ‘Food for Thought’ advice column: Best of 2015

The year’s most-read and shared answers to your food and feeding questions, by experts in the Autism Speaks Autism Treatment Network

This year, we tapped autism experts from across North America to address your autism-related feeding and food challenges. They provided strategies to address many variations on the picky eating and food aversions that are so common among those affected by autism. They also provided autism-friendly tips for addressing extreme overeating.

Many of you also had questions about probiotics, food allergies and special diets that might ease or worsen autism symptoms. Equally important, you sought advice on teaching the kind of mealtime manners that are so crucial to social acceptance – skills that can be especially difficult to master for those on the autism spectrum.

Here then are 2015’s most-read and shared posts from the Autism Speaks “Food for Thought” advice column.

Except where otherwise noted, the following experts practice within the Autism Speaks Autism Treatment Network (ATN). Find the ATN nearest you here.

#5 Autism, probiotics and dietary fiber: a Q&A with GI specialist Tim Buie
Following a hugely popular “Office Hours” video segment with Dr. Buie, the renowned pediatric gastroenterologist fielded your follow-up questions. Dr. Buie practices at MassGeneral Hospital’s Lurie Center for Autism, in Boston. See the video and read the Q&A...

#4 Can an eating-disorder program help this teen with severe food aversions?
“His team of doctors are worried because his cholesterol is high,” his mom wrote. “They want him to enter an inpatient program for eating disorders. Do you have information on people on the spectrum participating in this sort of program?”

In this much-shared post, our experts address the common confusion between autism-related “feeding disorders” – which usually involve food aversions – and “eating disorders” – which involve body image and fear of weight gain. The good news is that there are effective – but very different – programs to address these two dissimilar issues. Learn more…

#3 Solving the mystery of foul breath in an adult who has autism and Down syndrome
“Our 26-year-old daughter has autism and Down syndrome. The most horrible problem is her awful breath,” a mom wrote. “It’s so bad, it’s hard to let her get close to us, let alone kiss us.” So begins a plea for help from parents who’ve “tried everything.”

Renowned pediatric gastroenterologist and autism specialist Tim Buie walked the family through possible GI conditions to explore with their daughter’s physicians. Read his advice…

#2 Help! Our adult son with autism grossly overstuffs his mouth
”My adult autistic son habitually overstuffs his mouth with food to the point of not being able to close his lips,” another mom wrote. “No matter how often we tell him to eat ‘little bites,’ he goes back to this habit.”

Strategies for curbing this common, socially alienating – and potentially dangerous – problem came from occupational therapist Desiree Gapultos, of Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. Read her tips…

#1 Autism and mealtime: A therapist’s top 10 tips for success
“Feeding challenges are among the most common issues that bring children with autism and their parents to my practice,” wrote occupational therapist Moira Pena, of Toronto’s Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital. “Today, I’m glad to share ten of the strategies that, in my experience, prove the most successful in supporting children and their families in their pursuit of healthy eating habits.” Read more…

Read all the posts in our “Food for Thought” archive here.

Got more food and feeding questions for our experts?
Send them to

gotquestions@autismspeaks.org.

* Learn more about the Autism Speaks Autism Treatment Network here.
* Find the ATN center nearest you 
here.
* Explore our archive of ATN expert-advice blogs and news stories 
here.

The Autism Speaks blog features opinions from people throughout the autism community. Each blog represents the point of view of the author and does not necessarily reflect Autism Speaks' beliefs or point of view.