Ask the Experts

Is Food Sensitivity a Symptom of ADHD?

Is food sensitivity a sign of ADHD? What about sensory processing disorder (SPD)? Could it be both? If your child is a picky eater, read on for common causes — and treatments — in highly sensitive kids.

Q: “My son with ADHD is a very picky eater. He is very tactile and hates many kinds of textures. Could sensory processing disorder or hypersensitivity be causing this?”

A: Children with ADHD may also have sensory processing disorder (SPD). As part of this disorder, they might have difficulty with gross or fine motor skills, experience hypersensitivity, and/or have difficulty maintaining an upright position. Some children with SPD are oversensitive to smell, taste, and textures.

If you notice that your son has difficulty with fine motor skills (coloring, cutting, handwriting), hand-eye coordination (catching, hitting a ball), or gross motor skills (clumsy walking gait, often trips), along with the tactile hypersensitivity, discuss these concerns with his family physician and school professionals. It could be that he has food sensitivities.

An occupational therapist is trained in SPD, and can work with you to minimize these problems. If your son doesn’t show any of these symptoms, he might just be a picky eater.

Food Sensitivities: Next Steps

1. Testing for Food Sensitivities with an ADHD Elimination Diet
2. The ADHD Diet for Kids
3. Picky Eater Solutions: 9 Nutrition Tricks