A Family-Centered Feeding Intervention to Promote Food Acceptance and Decrease Challenging Behaviors in Children With ASD: Report of Follow-Up Data on a Train-the-Trainer Model Using EAT-UP

Purpose

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.

Method

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.

Results

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.

Conclusions

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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A Family-Centered Feeding Intervention to Promote Food Acceptance and Decrease Challenging Behaviors in Children With ASD: Report of Follow-Up Data on a Train-the-Trainer Model Using EAT-UP

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