ATN/AIR-P Pica Guide for Parents

Pica, the repeated eating of non-food items, is the eating disorder most often displayed by children with autism. For example, a child may eat food from a garbage can or bite off a piece of a toy plastic car and swallow it quickly. Other children hold things in their mouths and move them around only swallowing the item occasionally. 

The Pica Tool Kits for Parents and Professionals help parents and primary care providers understand more about pica, the signs and symptoms, as well as the ways to treat and prevent it. 

Sections include:

What is pica?
Why is pica a problem?
Why do children with autism and other developmental disabilities have pica?
Where can I go for help?
Things parents can do
Treatments that require professional help

"These materials are the product of on-going activities of the Autism Speaks Autism Treatment Network, a funded program of Autism Speaks. It is supported by cooperative agreement UA3 MC 11054 through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration, Maternal and Child Health Research Program to the Massachusetts General Hospital. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the MCHB, HRSA, HHS, or Autism Speaks."

Our Autism Response Team (ART) is specially trained to connect people with autism, their families, and caretakers to information, tools, and resources.

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You can also reach the Autism Response Team by phone or email: 888-288-4762, en Espanol 888-772-7050, or