This research note outlines the usefulness of Easing Anxiety Together with Understanding and Perseverance (EAT-UP), a train-the-trainer, family-centered feeding intervention, for promoting food acceptance of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). This report is a follow-up on a pilot study (n = 4) of the EAT-UP intervention previously completed by the same authors.
Participants were 3 families of children with ASD receiving services from an outpatient department of a larger rehabilitation hospital in the northeastern United States. Three professionals working with the families were also recruited and trained by the first author, a speech-language pathologist experienced with the EAT-UP method. Initial assessment was followed by a baseline period for each participant. An individual mealtime plan was drafted for each family. Data on acceptance of less preferred food and the presence of challenging mealtime behaviors were recorded using direct observation and pre-, mid-, and postintervention measures and questionnaires.
All children demonstrated increased food acceptance and dietary diversity and decreased challenging behaviors. Caregivers reported decreases in the frequency of problem behaviors and in the number of problem mealtime behaviors. Measures of procedural fidelity increased from 50% to 100% for registered behavior technicians and parents over the course of the EAT-UP intervention period.
EAT-UP is an effective model for training professionals who work with families of children with ASD and challenging mealtime behavior. Implications for interprofessional practice and research are discussed.
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