Accepted abstract - Creative Tastebuds Symposium

Challenging the senses - development of taste education for children with neurodevelopmental disorders

By Anna S Olafsdottir & Sigrun Thorsteinsdottir, University of Iceland, School of Education; Faculty of Sports, Leisure Studies and Social Education. 

The health benefits of a varied and balanced diet rich in plant foods are well documented. The content of fibre, high nutrient density along with low energy density are among factors contributing to the important health benefits of consuming fruit and vegetables. Across most countries, daily fruit and vegetable intake remains well below the recommendations of five portions a day for both children and adults despite considerable focus being put on increasing intake. Children’s eating behaviour has received increased attention in recent years and more focus is now put on modifying the behaviour and pushing it into healthier directions.1 Despite the attention on fruit and vegetable intake in children, to our knowledge only one study has specifically targeted increased consumption in children with neurodevelopmental disorders (ND).2 Children with ND such as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and Attention-Deficit/Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) are often fussy eaters, affecting well-being and stress around mealtimes.3,4 Parents of children with ASD continually report problems in getting their children to eat and/or describe texture and taste preferences such as only eating bland food items and crunchy or salty foods such as crisps and having strict or disruptive rituals around meals.5 Current evidence for treatment of feeding difficulties in children with ASD is limited and most studies focus on increasing appropriate feeding behaviour or food volume, rather than expanding the variety of food types consumed.6,7 In typically developing children (TD) taste-education can increase variety in food choice. This approach is novel to ND children. The paper describes the design and rationale for developing a taste education programme for 8-12 year-old ND children and their families with a focus on increasing fruit and vegetable consumption. Materials and methods to be used in this family-based intervention based on a pedagogical framework in a school setting will also be presented.



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