Eating What You Should Not: Pica in Autistic Individuals

2014-02-24 09:45

Pica is a deadly disorder, one which is both standalone but appears also in individuals diagnosed with autism. One of the comorbid disorders related to those on the spectrum, it is a strange behavioural problem that is also defined as an eating disorder which has failed to subside in children older than 36 months. Many children on the spectrum are also diagnosed with pica, one which might be the result of an excessive need for sensory stimulation. This peculiar phenomenon dates back to the Greco-Roman civilization. Rather interesting, as deadly as it can be.

Pica Facts
Certain facts concerning the prevalence of Pica have been presented in the November 2012 issue of Psychiatric Annals. Certain intriguing points include:


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Oh for crying out loud!!! Zinc and/or iron deficiency!!! Run fast and far from those who think it's all in your head, especially if they concoct some aversive "solutions"!
VJ, your comment confuses me. Why would a nutrient deficiency not be an answer for eating non-foods? Also, what are you suggesting is all in your head?
I absolutely agree with VJ- There are plenty of studies that also agree as well saying that having a deficiency such as iron and/or Zinc or B, etc... You can easily crave things that are more primal and instinctive by scent and by nature (i.e. Dirt, paint, ice chips, etc...) Having experienced this with my own daighter who is highly functioning autistic - I absolutely agree (and in my own opinion, conclude) that this is a way to treat Pica. When your body needs protein it'll crave meat even if you don't eat meat- there is absolutely no difference here. My daughter is 5 and began eating dirt last year - to the point she would sneak away during play time or out of the dog door to get it. It was petrifying! ABA said it was a "punishable act" so we needed to make sure that we always had the Same "punishment" for it. I didn't necessarily agree with this as it wasn't a behavior she could control. After research and talking with doctors - we did blood work and found out she was anemic. About three weeks after starting her on a children's Multi vitamin and morning drops of iron in her juice - she perked up and her cravings stopped completely. I truly suggest researching this if PICA is something you or someone you know Is suffering from.
Ohhh, You mean don't buy into the fact that is is a need for sensory stimulation. I'm sorry. I have always learned too that it is from nutritional deficiency.