And through a process of trial-and-error, autistic children and their families have come up with their own ways of making mealtimes easier.
Ryan Kemp, who is now 26, has overcome some of his food issues, although he still slathers tartar sauce on everything from sandwiches to pancakes. Ryan's parents learned to anticipate when he was growing upset and attempt to divert his attention. They shaved his head and keep his nails short to keep him from hurting himself. Wearing long-sleeved, snug fitting spandex shirts has also lessened his urge to pinch.
"It's a challenge," Pat Kemp said. "Every day and every child is different."
Brenda Legge's son, Harry, is now a 19-year-old college psychology student. His eating habits are much improved, Legge said, much of it due to his determination to try new things and from a better understanding as he matured about healthy eating habits.
"When a child won't eat, it has an enormous effect on the immediate family. Everything revolves around mealtimes and finding new and ingenious methods of getting your child to eat," Legge said.
Autism Speaks has more on autism.
SOURCES: Pat Kemp, executive vice president, awareness and events, Autism Speaks, New York City; Geraldine Dawson, Ph.D., chief science officer, Autism Speaks, New York City; Brenda Legge, author, London
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