Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by a lack of social communication and restrictive, repetitive behaviors or interests. This study aimed to examine the mealtime behaviors and food preferences of students with ASD. An online questionnaire on mealtime behavior and food preferences of ASD students was conducted by caregivers including parents, and the average age of ASD students was 14.1 ± 6.1. The analysis of mealtime behavior resulted in classification into three clusters: cluster 1, the “low-level problematic mealtime behavior group”; cluster 2, the “mid-level problematic mealtime behavior group”; and cluster 3, the “high-level problematic mealtime behavior group”. Cluster 1 included older students than other clusters and their own specific dietary rituals. Meanwhile, cluster 3 included younger students than other clusters, high-level problematic mealtime behavior, and a low preference for food. In particular, there were significant differences in age and food preference for each subdivided ASD group according to their eating behaviors. Therefore, the content and method of nutrition education for ASD students’ needs a detailed approach according to the characteristics of each group.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Funding: This research was funded by Ewha Womans University.
© 2020 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.
- Autism spectrum disorder
- Food preferences
- Mealtime behaviors