Research published in the Pediatrics journal by the Mayo Clinic discusses digestive issues in children with autism. This study was designed to determine if children with autism had more stomach and intestinal problems than children who do not have autism. Stomach and intestinal problems were defined in this study as: “constipation; diarrhea; abdominal bloating, discomfort or irritability; gastroesophageal reflux of vomiting; feeding issues or food selectivity”. Children were followed to almost 19 years of age and compared to children without autism. Children with autism had more constipation and food issues/selectivity than children without autism. Food selectivity may be behavioral due to a need for consistency from day to day. There was no increased incidence of stomach and intestinal problems in children with autism which served to prove that the stomach / intestinal problems found in children with autism were not due to physical problems with these organs. For more information please see the Journal of Pediatrics.
If constipation is an issue for any child, whole grains, fresh fruits, and vegetables, as well as an adequate amount of fluids daily, is the preferred nutrition therapy. A bowel training program may be required as well since children with chronic constipation may withhold stool due to the pain experienced with evacuating constipated stool.
After attending her continuing education program on autism and nutrition in April 2009, I wanted to provide you with a good resource from a dietitian. If you have a child or student with autism, please consider “Eating for Autism” by Elizabeth Strickland, MS, RD, LD by clicking on the book image below. If you would like to read about Elizabeth Strickland, go to, ASD Puzzle dietitian.