Faculty Mentor

Maureen Mickus

Presentation Date



Previous research behind sympathetic nervous system functioning in children with Autism Spectrum Disorder has shown disturbances in their ability to regulate their arousal level (Miller et al., 2003; Tomcheck and Dunn, 2000). Depicting this notion in previous research, children diagnosed with autism are likely to be comorbid with Sensory Over-responsitivity (SOR) or Sensory under-responsitivity (SUR), and could ultimately elicit variable sympathetic nervous system functioning in response to their sensory environment-whether it be taste, smell, auditory, tactile, or visual stimuli. Although previous research depicts inconsistent measures involving sympathetic responses to stimuli in children with autism, research specifically involving food selectivity provided this study to investigate this area of development. The definition of food selectivity as defined by Schreck & Williams, (2006) is characterized as eating a severely strict range of foods. A child with a limited food repertoire faces a higher risk of an inadequate nutritional diet that can highly impact their development. The ultimate goal of this study is to depict any differences in sympathetic nervous system functioning in children with food selectivity. If this is the case, we may be able to say that these groups of children use similar/different coping strategies to self-regulate. This may provide clinicians with better treatment outcomes in the future, however a further understanding on how these disorders can impact a child’s sympathetic response to food must be gathered.