Until sensory processing disorder is treated, one simple trick to help your child with autism eat using color

Some recent research may help us find ways to use our kids’ sensory processing difficulties to help them eat a wider variety of foods.

Children with autism and Asperger’s may often refuse food because of a concern with any or all of the following sensory inputs:

  • Temperature (e.g. only tolerates lukewarm food),
  • Texture (e.g. refuses any crunchy food),
  • Odor (e.g. only tolerates deep fried smell),
  • Flavor (e.g. they can detect the slightest hint of broccoli),
  • Color (e.g. only foods of a certain color, such as yellow or brown).

Sensory integration is one of the top areas where parents are reporting the most progress with Sensory Enrichment Therapy, but what will you do until then?

While you are working on the sensory processing “disorder” (perhaps a strong word in some situations) at the neurological level, and until this brain function reaches a certain comfort level, it’s OK to let go a little bit and be creative.

There are a couple of good books you might be interested in reading, where you can learn how to incorporate fruits and vegetables into the diet of a picky eater:

  • The Sneaky Chef: Simple Strategies for Hiding Healthy Foods in Kids’ Favorite Meals, by Missy Chase Lapine
  • Deceptively Delicious: Simple Secrets to Get Your Kids Eating Good Food, by Jessica Seinfeld

But if the color is the only thing that bothers your picky eater, whether this is a child with autism or someone else in your family, why not simply color the food with an all-natural food dye, such as a food dye made with vegetables?

We found for you, on Youtube, this easy to implement set of recipes to create natural dyes for your child’s food, until his Mendability therapy brings him to a typical choice of food in its real color.


  • Neurocase. 2014 Jun;20(3):296-306. doi: 10.1080/13554794.2013.770880. Epub 2013 Apr 3.
    Color obsessions and phobias in autism spectrum disorders: the case of J.G.
    Ludlow AK1, Heaton P, Hill E, Franklin A.
  • Autism Res. 2013 Oct;6(5):332-6. doi: 10.1002/aur.1293. Epub 2013 Apr 10. Autistic traits and sensitivity to interference with flavour identification. Clark AI1, Hughes PS, Grube M, Stewart ME
  • Front Hum Neurosci. 2013 Dec 9;7:847. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2013.00847. eCollection 2013. Is synesthesia more common in patients with Asperger syndrome? Neufeld J1, Roy M2, Zapf A3, Sinke C4, Emrich HM2, Prox-Vagedes
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