Tips for Dealing with Picky Eaters in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Picky Eaters in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder Picky eating is very common in children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. This is an issue that can be very frustrating and difficult for the parents to manage.

Here are some tips for handling the picky eater.

  1. ABA can help. First, keep in mind that Applied Behavior Analysis can help with this problem. Through an individualized plan, ABA can help you improve your child’s table habits.
  1. No power struggle. Never engage in a power struggle with a child who is a picky eater. You will lose. Offer acceptable foods, and let the child eat or not eat. Set a time limit for meal times. There should be no pressure or shouting at the table.
  1. Be mindful of food textures. In children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, there may be a distinct preference for certain food textures. If your child only wants things that are crunchy, for example, then offer the child crunchy foods. If the child only wants smooth foods, then your blender is your friend.
  1. Be mindful of gastrointestinal issues. There is some evidence that children with ASD may also have some digestive problems. Explore this with your doctor. Some parents have found that specific diets may help such as gluten-free or casein-free.
  1. Color or presentation may play a role. Maybe the child has a preference for a particular color food or specific presentation on the plate. Many children, for example, don’t like foods that are mixed like a casserole. These children want to see precisely what each food is.
  1. Don’t try to “trick” the child. If the child likes spaghetti, don’t try mixing vegetables into the sauce to trick the child. This is counter-productive and likely to backfire. The child then begins to suspect that every food has hidden things that the child doesn’t want.
  1. Be patient. Remember that these table issues are common in children with ASD. We can help you find solutions that will work.

Applied Behavior Analysis helps to extinguish undesirable behaviors and reinforce desirable ones. ABA can improve your child’s toileting behaviors, eating behaviors, speech, and sleeping routines. ABA can be life changing for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. If you are trying to decide how to handle a child with ASD or what type of therapy is most appropriate for your child, please contact us today.

Let us help you. We offer Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) services for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, and our services are outlined here. We encourage you to call us directly, toll-free, at (844) 263-1613 or email us at We are based in Elmhurst, Illinois.