What is autism?

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a broad term used to describe a group of neurodevelopmental disorders.

These disorders are characterized by problems with communication and social interaction. People with ASD often demonstrate restricted, repetitive, and stereotyped interests or patterns of behavior.

*There are five different ASD subtypes, or specifiers. They are:

**with or without accompanying intellectual impairment

**with or without accompanying language impairment

**associated with a known medical or genetic condition or environmental factor

**associated with another neurodevelopmental, mental, or behavioral disorder

**with catatonia

Autism and diet

Children with autism may limit their food intake or have food preferences. They may also break down fat differently. As a result, autistic children are sometimes low in certain nutrients. Some of these nutrients have been studied to see if giving children supplements of these nutrients may help with autism symptoms. However, more research is needed. Before giving your child any of the following supplements, speak with your child’s physician or a dietitian first.

Multivitamin may help improve sleep and digestive problems in autistic children.

Children with autism are often low in iron, usually because many are picky eaters. Ask your child’s doctor to check iron levels regularly.

Vitamin B6 and magnesium supplements have been linked to improving behavior in autistic children.

Children with autism have low levels of omega-3 fats. Omega-3 supplements may help with hyperactivity in autistic children.

More research is needed to support a link between autism symptoms and nutrition. If you are considering a supplement or a special diet, speak with your child’s doctor or a dietitian first.