Exploring Eating Challenges and Food Selectivity for Latinx Children with and without Autism Spectrum Disorder Using Qualitative Visual Methodology: Implications for Oral Health

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021 Apr 3;18(7):3751. doi: 10.3390/ijerph18073751.


Diet and food choices significantly impact teeth, including enamel quality and development of dental caries. However, studies focusing on diet and its relation to oral care in Latinx children with and without Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) have been minimally addressed in research. This qualitative study used an inclusive visual methodology to explore what Latinx caregivers learned about their child’s diet preferences and food routines in relation to their oral health. As a secondary aim, the study sought to explore whether notable differences in diet emerged between Latinx children with and without ASD. Participants were 32 Latinx caregivers from 18 families with children with and without Autism (n = 8 with a typically developing child and n = 10 with a child with ASD) who completed a food journal activity and photo elicitation interview. Interviews were thematically coded for themes pertaining to parents’ perceptions of their child’s diet and oral health. Findings of this study indicate that the process of taking photos helped Latinx caregivers to better situate the barriers and behaviors influencing everyday food routines in their children within the context of relating to their overall oral health. Via their active participation in the research process, parents were empowered to note strategies they could employ that would directly impact their child’s oral health outcomes, such as reducing juice intake and monitoring sugar consumption. Therefore, visual research methodologies are an important strategy for researchers to consider in order to empower participants to be part of the research process and part of the outcomes, and to offer better understanding of the lived experience of populations underrepresented in the literature, such as Latinx children with and without ASD and their families.

PMID:33916808 | DOI:10.3390/ijerph18073751