Examining Biobehavioral Mechanisms of Extreme Eating Behaviors in Young Children with ASD
Children with ASD have a fivefold increase in eating problems when compared to typically developing children. These extreme eating behaviors often lead to serious health consequences (e.g., malnutrition, obesity) and are cause for significant parental stress and burden. We have yet to truly understand the mechanisms associated with these difficult behaviors in children with ASD, and there is no standard of care to treat feeding issues in ASD, perhaps because our current feeding interventions are not mechanistically-informed. Thus, this study uses a biobehavioral approach by using innovative eye-tracking technology to objectively examine attentional bias towards food, as well as will examine how behaviorally expressed symptoms of ASD (e.g., repetitive behaviors) are associated with these food-related attentional mechanisms. Lastly, given the environment is likely to influence children’s eating behaviors, we will examine how the home environment affects the eating behaviors of children with ASD.