Gustatory (Taste)


The gustatory system is responsible for the body’s ability to detect the chemicals in food that allow us to differentiate between sweet, salty, sour, bitter, and umami (savory) sensations. While the act of tasting is technically limited to this chemical process, the gustatory and olfactory senses are closely linked and combine to create what we perceive as flavor. Children with gustatory processing issues may have an unusually high or low appetite or very particular food preparation requirements (served at room temperature, chopped into small pieces, etc.).

Taste Seeking Taste Avoiding
  • Frequently chews or sucks on inedible objects, such as clothing or toys
  • Favors foods with strong or specific tastes (bitter, spicy, etc.)
  • Favors foods with specific textures (crunchy, mushy, etc.)
  • Is a “picky eater” – refuses to try new foods and has a very limited diet of preferred/acceptable foods
  • Abstains from foods with strong or specific tastes (bitter, spicy, etc.)
  • Abstains from foods with specific textures (crunchy, mushy, etc.)
How to Support How to Support
  • Prepare and expose your child to a wide variety of foods with a varying flavors and textures.
  • Encourage chewing gum, a chewing necklace, or chew tubes.
  • Never force a child to eat.
  • Introduce new foods slowly and use a tiered approach:
    1. Exposure
    2. Smelling
    3. Licking
    4. Tasting

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