Masters Thesis

Assessment of food related behavior among children diagnosed with autism and the emotional impact of parents

Having a child on the Autism spectrum can present a variety of challenges for parents. Many children diagnosed on the Autism spectrum experience communication and social struggles; as well as sensory related difficulties. Some children’s inappropriate behaviors are related to specific events, such as mealtime which can be particularly challenging. This study examines the difficulties parents experience during mealtime with their children on the Autism Spectrum and the emotional affect mealtime behaviors have on the parent. In addition, the purpose of this study was to determine whether parents desire additional information that would assist them during mealtimes. Twenty-four participants participated in completing a survey which included various questions surrounding mealtime behaviors and routines, as well as questions pertaining to the emotional effect on the parents. Results revealed verbal protest as the most prominent behavior displayed during mealtime. Additionally, results revealed that although parents experience a high level of stress and frustration during mealtime they do not wish to receive supportive information.