One year ago, my 4 -year old son’s diet was only “baby pureed food”, he is now eating out in restaurants with us.  A great outcome!” – FT, father of 4-year old child with autism

Treatment Outcomes

In a recent field based research conducted by the Learn 2 Learn Clinic in 2015, as all bites of different textures was accepted by a 4 year old child with autism, the levels of the disruptive and expulsion behaviour remained low in the analysis. The child was found to reject eating, every time packing was maintained by negative reinforcement. Lowering the food texture when the development of chewing skills is taking place is likely to compromise this development, and as a result, foods that facilitate the development of skills are required. What follows is progressive alteration of the food texture. It becomes necessary to examine packing relative to skills deficit, whenever it is impossible for a child to eat foods with higher texture.

Associated to the effectiveness of the treatment is the non-removal of the spoon, which was identified to increase the levels of acceptance to 90 percent of trials, undertaken on vegetables, starch and meat, and over 40 percent on fruits. Packing was observed to follow the rise in the levels of acceptance for fruits, despite the fact that escape extinction was found effective in increasing acceptance. As a result, the strategy was apparently inappropriate for textual assessments minus escape extinction inclusion.

According to Kodak & Piazza (2008), strategies based on ABA are effective for decreasing inappropriate behaviours and increasing appropriate behaviour in kids with ASD. As a result, making an assumption that same approaches would be effective for treatment of their eating issues is reasonable. However, since 2007, it is surprising that only four research studies were published in the Journal Applied Behavioural Analysis as well as a few more research studies published in other journals such as behavioural Interventions concentrated on the treatment of eating issues in kids with ASD.

A number of studies disclosed that behavioural function for many children is identified by functional analyses of inappropriate mealtime behaviour (Girolami and Scotti, 2001; Najdowski et al., 2008; Piazza et al., 2003). Nevertheless, there is need for follow-up research studies using a larger group of children with ASD to be conducted in order to determine whether functional analysis identifies functional reinforcing triggers for inappropriate mealtime behaviour. According to Fisher, et al. and Borrero et al. (2010), the consequences utilized in analogue functional analysis of inappropriate mealtime behaviour are similar to the natural consequences utilized by caregivers in the course of meals. This is a clear indication that there is need to extend functional analysis social validity to the caretakers of children with ASD. Even if Najdowski et al. (2008) indicate in their research that caregivers of children with food selectivity and autism can be taught how to carry out, with integrity, functional analysis of inappropriate mealtime behaviour while at home.

Based on the findings of 64 children who were admitted to the Feeding Disorder Program at the Munroe-Meyer Institute between August 2006 and July 2012, using ABA strategies has seen a 90.5% success rate. The success of a patient is measured in a variety of areas for example caregiver training, decrease in inappropriate mealtime behaviours, decrease in tube feedings and total amounts the child eats by mouth. Specific goals for each child are developed by the family and the feeding team, and they are established for both the home and the clinic. 85.7% of those patients who have a total goal for the amount they consume by mouth (PO) meet their goal at the end of the admission, and 97.6% of these patients experience an increase in total PO during the treatment admission day. Moreover, by the end of their admission, the majority of patients are found to be capable of attaining their decrease in tube feeding. The final treatment has turned to be successful by decreasing the inappropriate mealtime behaviours and teaching caregivers to implement the strategies with integrity. Generally, there has been a high success for patients who have been admitted to the day treatment program. These patients continue to improve in the outpatient program.

Purposely, individualized research and data-driven treatment plans are established to assist each child with autism become an age-typical eater. Caregivers, and parents alike, are actively involved in the process, and they practice feeding the children with program-developed treatment. This involvement of parents and caregivers is essential to the success of a child. Results are regularly assessed throughout the program. Establishing feeding patterns which the caregivers can maintain in the homes and different environments is the major goal of the program.

A high degree of success for children with feeding disorders is attained from the treatment at Learn 2 Learn Clinic. A considerable number of kids carry on improving post-treatments and eventually, as compared to their peer without eating problems, they become better eaters.  Based on a number of studies, early intervention has been found to be effective in ameliorating the symptoms of autism with feeding problems. What all families of children with autism spectrum disorder want is for these kids to sit around a table and enjoy a meal like any other families do. Through assessment and treatment services, the Feeding Disorder Program offers a comprehensive approach to achieving this goal.

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