Date of Award
Master of Science (MS)
Department of Family and Consumer Sciences
Rationale: Diagnosis of autism has increased ten-fold in the last 40 years, and adults with autism remain an underrepresented population in research. Purpose: To qualitatively explore the relationship between eating behaviors and autism using a questionnaire and interviews with adults diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. Methods: Four males aged 22-27 were interviewed with their mothers present and completed the Swedish Eating Assessment for Autism Spectrum Disorders (SWEAA). Interviews were analyzed through the process of open coding, and the questionnaires were analyzed to determine consistent findings between the interview and the SWEAA questionnaire. Major Findings: Participants generally recognized hunger and satiety and were consuming a high carbohydrate, high fat diet low in vegetables. Variety in food choices was highly dependent upon encouragement from family members. Participants showed no concern for body image, but parents had taken steps to avoid weight gain as their children aged. Previous nutrition education was not particularly meaningful to participants, however they did understand general healthy eating concepts. Implications: Parents should encourage variety in the diets of individuals with autism, as negative responses to foods appeae to decrease with age. Participants' concern with
functionality rather than appearance should be considered in the way weight management is approached by health professionals such as Registered Dietitian Nutritionists.
Barbier, Samantha, "A Qualitative Assessment Of Eating Behaviors In Adults With Autism" (2015). Theses and Dissertations. 317.