Studies of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) report a high prevalence of eating abnormalities (46-92%) compared to typically developed (TD) toddlers (25-50%), and food selectivity is considered the most frequent eating problem in ASD. Notwithstanding, there is no consensus regarding the meaning of the term “food selectivity”. Children with ASD and food selectivity are at a greater risk for having inadequate intake of various minerals and vitamins that might affect development. Previous research reported that food selectivity was positively related to parent-reported autism symptoms but unrelated to autism severity or linguistic and cognitive abilities as measured by professionals. Two possible mechanisms may underlie co-morbid food selectivity in ASD: sensory over-responsivity and inflexible adherence to routines or rituals that are part of the restricted and repetitive behaviors (RRB) criterion for ASD. In addition, as meals often have social facets, food selectivity might also be related to deficits in the social-communication domain.
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