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The Sensory Profiles, Eating Behaviors, and Quality of Life of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder.

Psychiatric Quarterly 2023 December 13
Eating disorders frequently accompany autism spectrum disorder (ASD). One such novel eating disorder is avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID). This study compares the eating attitudes, quality of life, and sensory processing of typically developing children (TDC), autistic children, and autistic children with ARFID. A total of 111 children aged 4-10 with a diagnosis of ASD and ARFID (n = 37), ASD without ARFID (n = 37), and typical development (n = 37) were recruited. After an interview in which Childhood Autism Rating Scale (CARS) was administered, Child Eating Behavior Questionnaire (CEBQ), Pediatric Quality of Life Inventory (PedsQL), Social Responsiveness Scale (SRS) and Sensory Profile (SP) were completed by caregivers. Autistic children with ARFID had higher scores in CEBQ subscales relating to low appetite and lower scores on the subscales associated with weight gain. Both groups of autistic children scored lower than TDC on all PedsQL subscales and autistic children with ARFID had lower social QL scores than both groups. SRS scores were highest in autistic children with ARFID, followed by autistic and typically developing children. CARS scores were similar in both groups of autistic children, but higher than TDC. Auditory, vision, touch, multi-sensory, oral processing scores; as well as all quadrant scores, were significantly lower in autistic children with ARFID. Oral sensory processing scores were found to be the most significant predictor of ARFID comorbidity in ASD and reliably predicted ARFID in autistic children in the clinical setting. Autistic children with ARFID demonstrate differences in social functioning, sensory processing, eating attitudes, and quality of life compared to autistic and TD children.

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