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“Of course, there will always be days ‘with’ and days ‘without’ ”. Autism and the family management of food particularities from childhood to adolescence

Amandine Rochedy

Research Framework: Dietary characteristics are a pervasive feature of how children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) function. This aspect requires family members to support, adjust and reorganize daily activities in the provision of food and in ensuring proper health.

Objectives: This article focuses on families with dietary peculiarities and how problematic TSA-associated behavior at the table can have consequences on the social life of these children, their families and their loved ones.

Methodology : To study parenting practices, a survey of parents of children with ASD was conducted through interviews (n = 21), testimonies (n = 29) and questionnaires (n = 322).

Results : Based on a broad array of research areas, this article is interested in describing and explaining the daily burden of food management at the crossroads of parental, domestic care work and its « material » and « ideal » aspects. The analysis also shows that the management of food characteristics redefines parental roles, especially for mothers. It also questions management issues beyond the parental sphere through the support provided by extended family members.

Conclusions: This analysis studies how the dietary characteristics of children with autism are managed by family members through an interweaving of the sociology of food, health, disability, family and gender.

Contribution: This article highlights the intersection between the normal and pathological and the social adjustments required for the provision of « food care ».