Narratives of mothers of children with autism spectrum disorders: focus on eating behavior

Narrativa de mães de crianças com transtorno do espectro do autismo: foco no comportamento alimentar

Cristiane P. Lázaro Milena P. Pondé About the authors



To investigate the eating behavior of individuals with autism through their mothers’ narratives.


The study of narratives was used to report on the narrators’ experiences. Data on the eating habits of individuals with autism were collected using semi-structured interviews held individually with the mothers. The interviews were recorded, transcribed and codified using the NVivo software program.


Eighteen mothers of boys/young men with autism participated in the study. Analysis yielded three major categories: eating patterns, the family's attitudes to the child's eating habits, and food-related behavior.


Results show that autism-related factors may affect the child's food choices. Environmental factors, particularly the parents’ behavior, may also play a decisive role, both in reinforcing the child's food choices and in encouraging a healthier and more diversified diet. Professionals should instruct parents regarding their decisive role in reinforcing or discouraging inappropriate mealtime behavior in children with autism.

Autism spectrum; behavior problems; parents’ style; qualitative methods; eating and feeding disorders

Associação de Psiquiatria do Rio Grande do Sul Av. Ipiranga, 5311/202, 90610-001 Porto Alegre RS/ Brasil, Tel./Fax: (55 51) 3024 4846 - Porto Alegre - RS - Brazil