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Children with Autism Unimpaired by Non-Varied Diet

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“Maggie” L’s son has been diagnosed with autism; through the years she has struggled to make sure his diet is as varied as possible.  “There were ‘phases’ during which Tommy would only eat one particular food; for example, we went through a bread and butter only stage for a couple of years.  It’s been challenging to say the least.”

Maggie L. is not alone; most children who have a diagnosis along the autism spectrum disorder are extraordinarily picky eaters.  This is in part due to the fact that they have a natural aversion to new experiences, coupled with ritualistic behavior. 

But a new study conducted in the UK has determined that despite their pickiness, they physically develop “normally” when compared to autism free children.

Study Details

For the study, Dr. Pauline Emmett, research fellow at the University Bristol followed 79 children with varied levels of autism; she and her team followed the children for 7 years, comparing them with 14,000 autism free kids. 30 of the autistic children had classical autism, 23 had Aspberger’s, and the remaining children displayed some symptoms of autism, but not enough to render them a diagnosis along the spectrum.

Parents completed questionnaires on diet habits; the children were “checked” at 6 months, 15 months, then again at the ages of 2, 3, and 4. 

Study Results

Although the autistic children had slightly deficient levels of vitamin C and D, they also drank less soda and ate fewer sweets than other children.
In an email, Dr. Emmett told Reuters, "We think that these are reassuring findings, and that in general, parents of children with ASD symptoms need not worry that their children will not grow properly."

She also believes that the lower levels of vitamin C and D are due to the fact that autistic children eat fewer fruits and vegetables.

Autism spectrum disorders are defined as a set of disorders that impede a child’s ability to communicate and develop social skills.  Children with Aspberger’s have normal intelligence, but do lack in the area of socializing and understanding non-verbal cues, such as tone of voice and body language.

According to the Autism Society of America, the autism spectrum can vary between “social awkwardness to a complete inability to interact and communicate.”

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