Parent-reported feeding and swallowing difficulties of children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (aged 3 to 5 years) compared to typically developing peers: a South African study
Background: Research on aspects of neurodevelopment such as feeding and swallowing difficulties in children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) is limited in low and middle income countries such as South Africa.
Method: A descriptive comparative group design was used to investigate feeding and swallowing difficulties of young children with ASD in comparison to typically developing peers. The Brief Autism Mealtime Behavioural Inventory (BAMBI) was used.
Results: Findings indicated a significant difference in the severity of feeding and swallowing difficulties between the two groups. Difficulties such as food selectivity, sensory processing difficulties, oral-motor difficulties and symptoms of dysphagia were iden- tified. The findings added to the existing global literature on feeding and swallowing difficulties in young children with ASD but provide a unique first perspective on these difficulties in South African children with ASD.
Conclusion: Findings also highlighted the use of the BAMBI as an adjunct clinical tool to encourage comprehensive parental report during feeding assessment in this population. Cultural adaptation of the BAMBI for future use in African countries should be considered. A better local understanding of the parental perspective on the multidimensional nature of the feeding and swallowing difficulties displayed by young children with ASD was obtained.
Keywords: Parent-reported feeding; swallowing difficulties; Autism Spectrum Disorders; South Africa.
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