Feeding Problems

Feeding problems are common in both children with autism as well as typically developing children. Behavior Analysis can offer much help in this area for parents struggling with issues of food refusal, limited diets and mealtime tantrums.

Behavior Analysts addressing these problems will typically work with an interdisciplinary team. Appropriate interdisciplinary team members include a behavior analyst to assess the contributions of environmental factors for the child's feeding problem, a dietitian to evaluate the adequacy of the child's calories and nutrition, a gastroenterologist to rule out medical causes of the feeding problem, and a speech and/or occupational therapist to evaluate the child's oral motor competence and safety for oral feeding,

As part of best practices in ABA, formal functional analyses are conducted prior to the implementation of any intervention procedures. Based on the published research related to inappropriate mealtime behavior, the results of functional analysis data suggests that negative reinforcement in the form of escape plays a primary role in the maintenance of feeding problems, and procedures based on escape extinction have been the most effective treatment.