Date of Defense


Date of Graduation



Occupational Therapy

First Advisor

Michelle Suarez

Second Advisor

Ben Atchison

Third Advisor

Ben Atchison


The objective of this study was to look at children with autism and their food choices based on previously collected data. The previously collected data includes a caregiver survey to determine food acceptance level (e.g. severe, moderate, typical), and a caregiver reported food inventory. The caregiver reported food inventory was used to see what specific foods children with autism are eating and in what food categories (e.g. dairy, fruits, vegetables, protein, and carbohydrate). Per previously literature, it is researched that children with ASD tend to have more food selectivity than typically developing children (Suarez, Nelson, & Curtis, 2012). There is also literature to support that children with ASD have sensory over-responsivity (SOR), specifically tactile defensiveness (Miller, Anzalone, Lane, Cermak, & Osten, 2007). These two factors have show to correlate with sever to moderate food selectivity. Children with autism who have food selectivity are at risk for poor nutrition (Cornish, 1998; Dovey, Staples, Gibson, & Halford, 2008; Herndon, DiGuiseppi, Johnson, Leiferman & Reynolds, 2009), as well as, lack of quality of life surrounding meal times (Ausderau, & Juarez). Therefore, knowing what foods children with autism are eating based on their food selectivity level is important. It is important because it can inform caregivers and clinicians and in turn, possibly decrease the risk for nutritional deficits and increase quality of life surrounding meal times.

Access Setting

Honors Thesis-Open Access

Thesis PP.pdf (185 kB)
Powerpoint Presentation