Hi and welcome to “What Works Wednesdays” where we share a success story from one of our clinical cases. Our intent is to show readers how successful ABA can be.
Today’s post will be slightly different from our previous What Works Wednesdays. We received inspiration from a guest blogger over at Yeah.Good Times. If you don’t know Jillsmo, you should. She is a mom of two, blogger, and cartoonist. She is also funny. Before you go visit her site, however, be prepared to see foul language.
You Might Be an Autism Parent If
Anyway, Jillsmo asked Sunday, another mom and autism blogger here, to write a guest post. We should give you some background. If you tweet, you may have picked up on the #youmightbeanautismparentif. If you don’t tweet, you should know that many parents have been posting comments where they fill in the rest of the phrase (e.g., you might be an autism parent if your child is 8 and he still doesn’t sleep through the night.)
So, Sunday described her feelings about how someone responded to her comment about her picky eater. You will find her guest post here, and it’s called Your Child is Picky: My Child is Stalin. It is an awesome post. After reading her post (and the 57 comments about her post), I became very frustrated. Sunday’s child eats only 4 foods. Many of the commenters shared how their children also suffered from picky eaters. Then we completed some of our own research and clearly, we have a pervasive problem on our hands. Parents of children with autism are posting on websites such as CafeMom, Parenting, and MDJunction, in search of help for their picky eater.
Behavioral Feeding Intervention Works
How can children with autism get to a point where they are only eating 10 foods, 5 foods, or even 3 foods and yet no one refers them to a behavioral feeding clinic? Behavioral feeding intervention is effective. We just summarized a research review last week showing how effective therapy is. If you missed it, you may find it here.
However, intervention can only be effective if implemented. Thus, parents need to be referred to agencies with extensive training and experience in pediatric feeding disorders combined with a specialty in autism spectrum disorders. Many such programs exist. Obviously, we provide behavioral feeding services. The Center for Autism and Related Disorders (CARD) also provides behavioral feeding services, as does Clinic 4 Kidz. Each of these agencies have staff available to travel to your home to help you and your child overcome picky eating. Other centers are available but families will have to travel to them. These include Kennedy Krieger, The Marcus Autism Center, and the Cleveland Clinic to name a few.
We also know that intervention works best when implemented as soon as possible. While we have treated children of a variety of ages, younger children respond more quickly because their behaviors are less engrained than older children. Physicians, teachers, and related service therapy personnel should refer families to help as soon as they notice a child limiting her foods.
Paying for It
Behavioral feeding therapy can be expensive depending on the type of program, how many therapy sessions are provided, and where services are provided. However, funding options do exist. First, try using health insurance to cover the costs. If that is denied, check with your state developmental services office to see if special funds are available for your child. Finally, if your child has an IEP or an IFSP, you may be able to write a feeding goal for your child and that goal will be used to design services to address your child’s feeding needs.
We know that having a child with autism is stressful. Having a child with autism who is also a picky eater is even worse. However, behavioral feeding intervention works.
Do you have a picky eater? Have you experienced behavioral feeding therapy? Tell us about your experiences.