In this post we look at some of the issues that people with autism may face when it comes to their diet.

Diet Management for People on the Autism Spectrum
Many people on the spectrum experience sensory issues (1) and this could affect their relationship with food. They could be over or under sensitive to things like the sight, smell or taste of food. This could translate to them only being able to eat certain foods or they could over or under eat.

(1) Lots of people on the spectrum have difficulty processing information such as sights, sounds and smells and this can have a profound effect on their life.

How Our Senses Work

Our senses allow us to learn, to protect ourselves, to enjoy our world. The senses usually work together to give us a clear picture of the things around us. If one sense isn’t working due to an accident or illness, then other senses will take over or become stronger to make up for the missing sense.

The five senses are: taste, sight, touch, smell, and hearing.

Additional Senses
In addition to the five senses listed above, humans also have the sense of balance, pressure, temperature, pain, and motion. The various senses all work together. Sensory overload occurs when one or more of the body’s senses experiences over stimulation.

Diet Management – Taste, sight, touch and smell could all affect someone on the autism spectrum’s relationship with food.
A person experiencing sensory overload could become stressed or anxious and may not want to even touch or smell certain foods, never mind put them in their mouth and taste them, or, they may enjoy the taste and smell of something that much that the food becomes an obsession or special interest. Eating is something that we all take for granted, but when it comes to diet management this can obviously cause real problems for someone on the autism spectrum.

The National Autistic Society have a very informative page on their website about dietary management for both people with a restricted diet and over eaters. Click here to view>

Something you might want to consider if you’re caring for someone on the autism spectrum is the use of a sensory room… Sensory Rooms offer a space for people with complex health needs to relax and unwind in a calm, peaceful and safe environment. Below we explain more about what you might find in a Sensory Room and what the benefits are.

The Sensory Room at The Chantry was designed and installed by a company who are specialists in creating multi sensory environments. The products in our Sensory Room at The Chantry have been specifically chosen to benefit people needing mental health care for conditions such as Autism, Aspergers, Personality Disorders and Learning Difficulties. They include projectors, UV lighting, mirror ball, bubble tubes, magic sands, beanbags, fibre optic spray and spotlights. All products are controlled via a wireless “talking cube”. As well as controlling the products, this cube helps users to better understand cause and effect.

The whole idea behind a Sensory Room is to empower the user by giving them the tools to control the colours, sounds, aromas and images in their environment. This exploratory approach allows the individual to tailor the sensory room to suit their tastes, seeking out the sensory inputs that they enjoy and find beneficial. Sensory Rooms are relaxing spaces that help to reduce agitation and anxiety, but they can also engage and delight the user, stimulating reactions and encouraging communication.

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The Sensory Room at The Chantry

At Freedom Care we have found that the Sensory Room fits very well with our mission to offer person-centered care to our users. Some of the following benefits to those that have used our Sensory Room so far are:

  • it stimulates the senses
  • it provides an alternative to medication and isolation
  • it increases functionality, awareness and attention
  • it improves appetite, memory, cognition and speech
  • it increases happiness
  • it encourages movement, range of motion and posture
  • it improves relationships
  • it decreases aggression, abuse, anxiety and wandering

At Freedom Care we are passionate about making possibility an actuality in the life of each and every person with complex health needs. We are therefore delighted to offer use of our Chantry Sensory Room to non-residents as well as residents.

Sensory Room Rates

● FREE first taster session
● Normal hourly rate £30
● Block booking – hourly rate £25
● Drinks are available on request, please advise us of any preferences that you may have.
● Parking (please be aware that we have a gravel car park, our staff will be on hand to assist wheelchair users if needed), ramped wheelchair access to the house
● Toilet facilities
● We take cash payments only

If you would like to use the Sensory Room or know of someone else who would then please do contact us today on 01163 669655.

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