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SWEAA -The SWedish Eating Assessment for Autism spectrum disorders - Validation of a self-report questionnaire targeting eating disturbances within the autism spectrum

Participants: Louise Karjalainen, Maria Råstam & Elisabet Wentz.

Background: The prevalence of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in the population is today estimated to be more than one percent. The majority of these cases are individuals of normal intelligence. Disturbed eating behaviours are clinically well known but not well studied in this group. Previous research has mainly focused on individuals with ASD and learning disabilities. Disturbed eating behaviours in ASD have a strong influence on the daily life of the individual and her or his close ones. Selective eating, food neophobia and pica are common in individuals with ASD and learning disabilities. Since the majority of all individuals with ASD do not have learning disabilities, it is of great importance to study the difficulties in the group of individuals of normal intelligence.

Aim: The aim of the study is to develop and validate an instrument to examine disturbed eating behaviours in individuals of normal intelligence with ASD.

Method: A web-based self-assessment questionnaire, The Swedish Eating Assessment for Autism Spectrum Disorders (SWEAA), has been developed based on clinical expertise and a thorough literature review. The questionnaire has been filled out by a group of individuals with ASD (without learning disability) (n=57; men:38, women:19), 15-25 years, and an aged-matched healthy comparison group (n=31; men:15, women:16).
The validation has focused on fundamental psychometric properties regarding reliability and validity. A revised version of the questionnaire has been obtained. Comparisons between the two groups have been made and reliability testing pertaining to test-retest has been conducted.

Results: The results indicate acceptable to high values concerning many aspects of reliability and validity for SWEAA. Logistic regression analyses discerned the subscales Simultaneous capacity and Social situation at mealtime as the areas that most effectively discriminated between clinical and comparison group.

Conclusions: In conclusion, the results indicate that SWEAA is a valid and reliable instrument for detecting disturbed eating behaviours in ASD individuals of normal intelligence.


Karlsson, L., Råstam, M., & Wentz, E. (2013). The SWedish Eating Assessment for Autism spectrum disorders (SWEAA)-Validation of a self-report questionnaire targeting eating disturbances within the autism spectrum. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 34, 2224-2233.

Page Manager: Anna Spyrou|Last update: 3/20/2014

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