Sense of Taste or the Gustatory System is also known as the Oral Sensory System.

Sense of Taste or the Gustatory System is also known as the Oral Sensory System.

May 10 , 2023


Julie-Anne Dietz

Sense of Taste or the Gustatory System is also known as the Oral Sensory System. Taste and smell are very closely related and refusal or sensitivity to certain foods and textures, may result in the same behaviours.

For those with Autism, sometimes addressing sensory processing issues may help improve their willingness to try new foods and expand their diet.
Occupational therapy and other interventions can be helpful in addressing sensory sensitivities and improving overall sensory integration.
It's important to be patient and understanding when working with someone who has taste issues related to autism. With time and support, it may be possible to expand their diet and help them develop a more varied and nutritious diet.

What you may see:

  • Refusing to eat certain foods or entire food groups
  • Being extremely picky about food textures, colors, or flavors
  • Becoming upset or having tantrums when presented with new or unfamiliar foods
  • Preferring only certain types of food or brands
  • Eating only a limited variety of foods
  • Chewing or spitting out food without swallowing
  • Having difficulty transitioning from one food to another
  • Refusing to eat or drink anything except for certain preferred items


What can you do?

  • Identify and avoid triggering foods: Identify specific tastes, textures, or smells that are particularly difficult for the individual with autism and avoid those foods as much as possible.
  • Introduce new foods slowly: Introduce new foods slowly and gradually to allow the individual to get used to the taste and texture. Start with small portions and gradually increase the amount over time.
  • Use visual aids: Use pictures or other visual aids to help the individual understand what foods are available and what they look like. This can help them feel more in control and reduce anxiety.
  • Use positive reinforcement: Use positive reinforcement, such as praise or rewards, when the individual tries new foods or takes small steps towards trying new foods. This can help build confidence and encourage them to continue trying new things.
  • Experiment with different food preparation methods: Experiment with different ways of preparing foods to find a method that the individual is more comfortable with. For example, they may prefer raw vegetables instead of cooked or prefer crunchy snacks over soft ones.
  • Seek support from a professional: Seek support from a healthcare professional or occupational therapist who specializes in sensory processing issues. They can provide guidance on strategies that may be helpful in addressing taste issues and improving overall sensory integration.

Some Activity ideas

  • Chewing - gum, chewable jewelry or chewies
  • Using a vibrating toothbrush
  • Drinking from a straw (sucking can assist with focus and help with attention)
  • Creating tasting bottles with various safe items with different scents or flavours
  • blowing bubbles
  • Explore textures through sensory bins
  • Blowing out candles
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