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Eating and food

Neurodivergent individuals can process taste, touch and sound sensations differently to others, as well as other sensory experiences. This can influence an individual’s food and drink preferences. This can also make trying new foods particularly challenging.It is important to support any dietary preferences and needs a neurodivergent individual may have while maintaining their nutrition and physical health.

Below is information that can help you and your child understand what makes a healthy diet, answer concerns about eating in neurodivergent children and young people, and improve their confidence in trying new foods.

If you have concerns that your child is not eating a balanced diet with the correct nutrients or if you are concerned about possible ARFID or another eating disorder speak to your GP who can support you to find the appropriate service to support your child.

More from MindMate if you’re worried about an eating disorder

More from MindMate on healthy eating

Accessible information about ADHD

This booklet from the British Dietetic Association explains the relationship between food and ADHD, and makes some suggestions for your child’s diet that may help with managing their ADHD.

Read about food and ADHD

Managing low weight

ADHD medication can cause weight loss. The Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust has some tips about how to encourage healthy weight gain if your child’s ADHD is causing them to fall below a healthy weight.

Read about managing weight loss

Autism and diet

This information sheet from the British Dietetic Association about autism and diet contains advice about how to maintain a healthy diet for your autistic child.

Read about autism and diet

Autistic children and eating

The British Dietetic Association website can help parents of autistic children understand why their child may struggle with eating and mealtimes.

Read about autistic children and eating

Autism and eating challenges

The National Autistic Society has produced this guide on understanding your autistic child’s difficulties with eating, and how to support them with maintaining a healthy diet.

Read about autism and challenges with eating

Information about ARFID

Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID) can be common amongst autistic people. The Beat website has lots of information about ARFID.

Go to Beat website

ARFID in Autism

ARFID Awareness UK has information about ARFID and other eating disorders, and their relationship with neurodiversity.

Go to ARFID Awareness UK website

Autistic children and Pica

Some autistic young people may engage in Pica, which is the eating of non-food items. This is often a sensory-seeking behaviour, or sometimes the child may not understand the difference between food and non-food items. This fact-sheet about Pica provides more information and some strategies to help manage Pica.

Read about Pica

Anorexia and autism

The Autistica website has some information on anorexia and autism.

Go to Autistic website

Eating disorders and ND

The Autistic Society provides information on eating disorders related to neurodiversity.

Read about eating disorders

Teaching healthy eating

InfiniTeach have provided a helpful visualisation and hands-on activity to develop childrens’ understanding of what makes up a healthy diet.

Go to Infiniteach website

Sammy's new food week

This book follows the story of Sammy, a child who is trying some new foods. It may be helpful as a visual guide for children and young people to consider the benefits of trying new food.

Go to book link

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