Feeding children with autism in South Africa: The teachers’ perspectives

African Journal of Disability

Field Value
Title Feeding children with autism in South Africa: The teachers’ perspectives
Creator Adams, Skye N. Matsimela, Nthabiseng
Subject — autism; classroom; feeding support; teachers; South Africa
Description Background: Over 80% of children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders (autism) exhibit disruptive behaviours during mealtimes, highlighting the need for personalised care. In South Africa, teachers often take on the responsibility of feeding due to resource constraints and the time children spend at school. Moreover, children with autism have unique and individualised feeding requirements, which many teachers may not have the necessary training or skills to address adequately.Objectives: To explore the ways in which teachers of autistic children manage feeding difficulties in the classroom.Method: A qualitative research design was employed using semi-structured interviews. Eight teachers were interviewed on feeding autistic children between the ages of 3 years - 9 years in Johannesburg, South Africa. Data were transcribed and analysed using thematic analysis.Results: The findings revealed that teachers encountered distinct challenges when it came to feeding autistic children in the classroom, particularly concerning the management of associated feeding difficulties. Teachers employed several strategies to encourage eating in the classroom setting including: (1) bolus modification, (2) behaviour modelling, (3) positive reinforcement and (4) offering choices and alternatives.Conclusion: The study concludes the need for specialised support and training for teachers to address the individualised feeding needs of children with autism. Implementing targeted interventions and providing resources for teachers could enhance their abilities to effectively support children with autism during mealtimes and promote a more inclusive classroom environment.Contribution: This study highlighted the importance of including the teacher in the multidisciplinary team when managing the feeding challenges in children with autism.
Publisher AOSIS
Date 2023-11-02
Type info:eu-repo/semantics/article info:eu-repo/semantics/publishedVersion — —
Format text/html application/epub+zip text/xml application/pdf
Identifier 10.4102/ajod.v12i0.1252
Source African Journal of Disability; Vol 12 (2023); 10 pages 2226-7220 2223-9170
Language eng
The following web links (URLs) may trigger a file download or direct you to an alternative webpage to gain access to a publication file format of the published article:

https://ajod.org/index.php/ajod/article/view/1252/2493 https://ajod.org/index.php/ajod/article/view/1252/2494 https://ajod.org/index.php/ajod/article/view/1252/2495 https://ajod.org/index.php/ajod/article/view/1252/2496
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Rights Copyright (c) 2023 Skye N. Adams, Nthabiseng Matsimela https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0