Healthy Sensory Foods for Children With Autism

healthy sensory foods for children with autism

It’s no secret that children with Autism are picky eaters. It’s tough to get your young loved one to eat something healthy, especially if they’ve already developed a routine or fixation on a certain food, like chips or candy. Not only does taste drive the appetites of kids with Autism though. It’s also texture and consistency. People with autism explore the world with their tactile senses, so the way something feels is really important to them. To help your picky eater be their healthiest self, here are some healthy sensory foods for children with autism.

Crunchy Foods

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When you think “crunchy foods,” your mind probably goes straight to chips or crackers or crunchy candy. But there are lots of crunchy foods out there that can satisfy your kiddo’s taste buds, sensory needs, and nutrition.

  • Apples
  • Carrots
  • Kale Chips
  • Roasted Chickpeas
  • Nuts
  • Banana Chips
  • Cauliflower Tots (Cooked to a Crisp!)

Squishy Foods

Your child with autism may have a different texture fixation, such as something squishy or creamy. There’s really no way to get around a mess with this type of food, but as long as it’s healthy, we think it’s OK for a little to make it on the floor! Here are some healthy, squishy foods:

  • Mashed Potatoes (Homemade)
  • Mangos
  • Peanut or Almond Butter
  • Egg Noodles
  • Bananas (Mashed!)
  • Avocadoes
  • Cottage Cheese

Runny Foods

These foods are more liquid than solid, so we’ll be speaking more in terms of consistency here, rather than texture. Your child with autism might really enjoy the way ice cream feels going down, but it’s tough to find nutritional value in a big bowl of sugar and cream! Here are some healthier alternatives:

  • Yogurt
  • Tomato Soup
  • Potato Soup
  • Smoothies (Homemade)
  • Pureed Fruits
  • Protein Shakes

Soft Foods

Soft foods are different from squishy foods. Think something that’s easy to chew, but not slimy – so bread, not noodles. Your child may enjoy eating something soft without struggling to chew something crunchy or dealing with the mess left behind by squishy or runny foods. Here are a few soft foods that are actually good for your child with autism:

  • Shredded Fish
  • Whole Grain Cereals (after Sitting in Milk for a Few Minutes)
  • Warm, Cooked Fruits
  • Roasted Vegetables
  • Scrambled Eggs
  • Beans
  • Tofu

At Special Strong, we understand that maintaining a healthy diet is difficult for anyone, but it can be especially difficult for those with special needs. That’s why we focus our efforts on helping our clients, children, and adults with special needs, meet their highest potential in fitness. We offer personal training sessions, boot camps, and professional nutrition and diet advice. We accept clients as young as eight years old, and we’re offering a 14-day free trial on our services. See results before you ever pay a dime. Call us at the number at the bottom of the page or complete the form on the contact us page to get more information.

The Benefits of Healthy Sensory Foods for Children with Autism

  1. Improved Nutrition: Children with autism often have a limited range of foods they will eat, which can lead to nutritional deficiencies. By incorporating healthy sensory foods into their diet, parents can ensure their child is getting the necessary vitamins and minerals for healthy growth and development.
  2. Sensory Integration: Many children with autism struggle with sensory integration, which is the ability to process and respond appropriately to different stimuli. Eating healthy sensory foods can help improve this skill as it exposes them to new textures, flavors, and temperatures.
  3. Increased Food Acceptance: Children with autism are often picky eaters and may avoid trying new foods. By introducing healthy sensory foods, parents can gradually increase their child’s acceptance of different types of food.
  4. Improved Gut Health: Some studies have suggested a link between autism and gastrointestinal issues. By incorporating healthy sensory foods into their diet, children with autism can improve their gut health and possibly alleviate some symptoms.

Importance of Sensory Foods for Children With Autism

Many children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) often encounter challenges with their sensory input, demonstrating heightened sensitivities to taste, smell, texture, and color of food. As such, the exploration of sensory foods becomes a crucial part of addressing eating habits and improving nourishment for these children. Understanding the importance of sensory foods can significantly enhance their well-being and overall development.

One of the key reasons sensory foods are important is because they familiarize children with ASD to various tastes and textures. This exposure is crucial in widening their palate, thereby helping them accept a variety of foods in their diet.

Many children with autism prefer foods that have specific textures like smooth, cold, or crunchy. In such cases, incorporating sensory foods based on their textural preferences can help improve their nutritional intake. For instance, foods like yogurt, ice-cream, and cold fruit puree may appeal to children who favor cold foods.

Color is also a significant sensory aspect that could influence a child’s food choices. Foods that are vibrant and brightly colored can often be more appealing to children with autism. By incorporating colorful sensory foods like strawberries, blueberries, carrots, or bell peppers, we not only provide them with visually stimulating food but also enrich their diet with crucial vitamins and minerals.

Exploration of sensory foods also promotes mindful eating. Engaging the child’s senses – touch, smell, sight, and taste – encourages them to focus on their meal, understand their body’s reaction to different foods, and gradually, develop a healthy relationship with food.

Moreover, sensory foods can also aid in improving a child’s motor skills. Foods that require more effort in chewing or foods that can be eaten with fingers can help these children improve their chewing abilities and fine motor skills.

Consulting a Doctor for Healthy Sensory Foods for Children With Autism

Consulting a doctor for healthy sensory foods for children with autism is a crucial step towards promoting their overall well-being. Children with autism often have unique sensory preferences and sensitivities, which can influence their eating habits. A healthcare professional, particularly one specializing in pediatrics or developmental disorders, can provide personalized guidance on crafting a balanced and nutritious diet that caters to the specific sensory needs of a child with autism.

Doctors can assess individual dietary requirements, taking into consideration sensory challenges such as food aversions or sensitivities to certain textures, tastes, or smells. They may recommend incorporating a variety of sensory-friendly foods rich in essential nutrients to support the child’s growth and development.

Additionally, consulting a doctor allows for the identification of potential nutritional deficiencies and the implementation of dietary interventions tailored to address specific concerns. The collaborative approach between parents, caregivers, and healthcare professionals ensures a holistic strategy for fostering healthy eating habits in children with autism, promoting their overall health and enhancing their sensory experiences with food. Regular check-ins with a doctor can help monitor progress and make adjustments to the dietary plan as the child’s needs evolve over time.

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