Mealtime behaviors of preschool children: comparison of children with autism spectrum disorder and children with typical development. Academic Article uri icon


  • This study identified mealtime behaviors of young children (3-6 years old) with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and compared these behaviors to children with typical development matched for age, gender, and ethnicity. The parents of children with ASD (n = 24) and children with typical development (n = 24) completed a mealtime survey to assess early mealtime history, mealtime location and behaviors, food preferences and behaviors, and eating problems. Parental concerns increased significantly after age 1 year in the children with ASD. Matched analysis results showed significant differences between the pairs of children in specific mealtime behaviors. More children with ASD were picky eaters, mouthed nonfood items, resisted new foods, limited foods based on textures, had problems with gagging, had difficulty eating at regular restaurants or at school, resisted sitting at the table, and threw or dumped food. Knowledge of these early differences can help pediatric therapists to assess feeding issues and plan interventions.

publication date

  • January 1, 2010