This week is National Eating Disorders (NED) Awareness Week. As posted on NEDAwareness.org, “In the United States alone, 30 million people will be impacted by an eating disorder at some point in their lifetime. Eating disorders can include extreme emotions, attitudes, and behaviors surrounding weight and food issues. These conditions affect all kinds of people and don’t discriminate by race, age, sex, or size.”
I was surprised to read how many people are affected by this disorder. I also learned that eating disorders are associated with other physical, behavioral and psychiatric conditions. Sadly, 65% of people with an eating disorder state that bullying contributed to their condition. And we know that media, with its emphasis on the “perfect look,” is a contributing influence to negative body image.
Of course, of these 30 million people, there will be some who have intellectual disabilities as well, although their challenges with food and eating will somewhat vary. When I think of eating disorders in this vein I think of feeding issues, which can be a common and serious problem for families of children with autism.
I consider myself fortunate that Ryan did not experience issues with feeding. When he was young, I decided that whatever food I was cooking for myself would be what I served him. I often laughed when people asked him what his favorite food was and he would reply, “Lobster and salmon!”
While some children with autism have serious sensory issues and food intolerances, we find in children and adults with intellectual disabilities that there are often difficulties with swallowing, which can result in choking.
Because of these challenges, Autism Speaks has developed a Feeding Tool kit for families who are experiencing feeding issues with their children.
This guide helps answer the most fundamental questions surrounding feeding issues, such as: Why is feeding so hard, What makes it so hard, and What can I do to help?
What tips have you found that help with feeding time? Share your experiences below!
For a copy of the feeding tool kit, click here.