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Rethinking Autism and “Picky Eating”

Photo © Melissa | Flickr / Creative Commons [image: Lunch box with each food type in a different compartment. Foods include pretzels, jellybeans, raspberries, sliced cucumber, and whole wheat sandwich bread in a butterfly cutout.]  Alex Earhart autisticallyalex.com For as long as I can remember, I’ve been ashamed of what I do and don’t eat. The stigma of being a “picky eater” has followed me my whole life, bringing comments (and no small amount of exasperation) from family, friends, wait staff, and strangers. I’ve recently been examining why I struggle with certain foods, and have come to the same conclusion as I have with much of my post-autism-diagnosis self-exploration: I’m actually incredibly strong, and my experiences are real and valid. Why am I so “picky”? Well, if you could experience my senses for a few hours, I bet you’d be more understanding, less judgmental, and I’m fairly certain you’d stop…

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How Extreme Diets Damage Autistic People

Reid Knight Content note: This article contains discussion of disordered eating. Photo from www.quotecatalog.com | Flickr / Creative Commons [image: Fork and knife paired in the center of a white ceramic plate on a pink background.] For many parents of a newly-diagnosed autistic child, a quick internet search for ‘autism’ tells them that changing their child’s diet is a smart first step towards “improving” autistic behaviors or other co-occuring conditions. Despite the popularity of “autism diets,” research shows insufficient proof that they do anything positive at all. Nevertheless, strictly regimenting the diet of autistic children continues to be a common parental practice. I was one of those autistic children who got put on a special diet, by parents who thought they were doing what was best for me. Though parents like mine may believe such a controlled diet is for the benefit of their child, my own experience on an…