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My son doesn't get full!

Good day. My son was diagnosed with classic ASD when he was 5. He is now 9. He has been homeschooled for the past two years because the mainstream school was not a happy experience for him. He is verbal, can read and write, and learns whatever fascinated him (mainly music and science). Our issue is that he eats and seems to have no "full" signal. Consequently he gorges on whatever carbs, dairy products and nuts he gets his hands on. He will not touch vegetables and meat/fish, but eats most fruits. We now strictly limit the availability of food and drinks in the home, but for his health sake, we need to help him develop healthier approaches to eating. Is this an issue that OT can address?

Interoception is our 8th sense (yes, we have a whole 8 of them!) It’s the sense that helps us know what’s going on inside our bodies - if we feel hungry or full, tired, hot or cold, etc. Sometimes in autism this sense might be affected in some way, which is likely what is happening in your son’s case. That internal sense that says “stop, you’re full!” isn’t always functioning as it should. This sense can be improved or his impulses can be managed in several different ways, including having a sensory diet to ensure that all senses are well developed. Other ways include addressing emotional regulation, practicing mindfulness so that he becomes more aware of how his body feels when he’s hungry vs when he’s full; and using prompts or explanations about the amount of food that is appropriate per meal. OT can help guide you with all of this.

His choices of foods can be related to many things - textures, colours, tastes. This may also be why he has an aversion to fruits and vegetables. OTs help in this way by helping to determine if his food choices are due to underlying sensory concerns, which can then be addressed to help him widen his palate. You may also want to contact a nutritionist to determine what are the best food options available that will allow him to get his daily nutrients.

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