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Posts Tagged ‘Picky Eater’

I came across this news piece over the weekend.

adult-picky-eater-will-only-consume-three-kinds-of-food.html

While no one asked me for my opinion, I’m certainly going to provide it.

Medical Assessment

First, this woman needs a complete medical work up. I would be willing to bet that she has anemia and bone density issues. Having low cholesterol is simply not good enough.

GI Workup

The TV journalist did not mention this but I would also want to know this woman’s GI habits. Is she constipated? Does she have diarrhea? Are there bouts of these? Additionally, does she experience acid reflux? If not now, did she as a child?

Nutritional Evaluation

Marla needs to see a nutritionist or dietician. Chances are, Marla is also deficient in important minerals like zinc. Research has shown that zinc deficiencies can result in altered taste and smells.

Does Marla have any food allergies? or Food sensitivities? I would be willing to bet she is sensitive to Gluten and Dairy (and possibly potato). This should be evaluated.

Treatment

Once the assessments have been completed, Marla needs to start some good behavior therapy. She needs to learn to associate good things with all the foods that she is currently scared to eat. We currently use the iPad with various applications, games, and movies. However, she may need something a little more powerful.

All of the foods that she is currently eating need to be stopped immediately and completely. The foods she is eating cause cravings which prevent her from wanting other foods. When she stops eating those foods, she will be able to tolerate and appreciate new foods.

Withdrawals

However, when Marla stops eating those same 3 foods, she is more than likely going to experience extreme withdrawal symptoms (much like those experienced by drug addicted individuals). We have written about this before and we have experienced it with several of our client.s

I wish  the best to Marla and her counselor and I hope that they get these issues resolved for her.

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Here at Applied Behavioral Strategies, our mission is to improve the quality of life through effective intervention. One way we hope to do that is by reviewing research articles for our readers. Today’s article is titled, Intervention for Food Selectivity in a Specialized School Setting: Teacher Implemented Prompting, Reinforcement, and Demand Fading for an Adolescent Student with Autism (wonder if they could make that a little longer?). A journal called Education and Treatment of Children published the article and Maria Knox, Hanna C. Rue, Leah Wildenger, Kara Lamb, and James K. Luiselli authored it. (If you want to read the entire article, you will find it on www.freelibrary.com)

Background

Many children with autism engage in picky eating or what researchers call “food selectivity“. For example some children live on a white foods diet (chicken nuggets, french fries, and bread) while others remain stuck in pureed foods.

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is one intervention that has been demonstrated repeatedly to be effective at addressing picky eating behavior. However, the intervention often results in challenging behaviors that make it difficult for parents and caregivers to implement on their own. In fact, most of the research to date has been implemented by highly trained therapists.

Purpose of the Study

Thus, authors set out to determine if an intervention could be implemented by school staff in the school setting.

Study Method: Participants

The authors enrolled one child in the study. “Anna” was 16 and had autism. She was verbal and she could follow simple instructions. Anna could feed herself. However, she limited her diet to  a few brand-specific crackers, dry cereal, and apple juice . During the study, Anna’s mother provided new foods including one main food (chicken nuggets, macaroni and cheese, or turkey and cheese sandwich) and two side foods (cheese cubes, vegetable chips, carrots, mandarin oranges, or apples).

The authors implemented all study procedures at the school in Anna’s lunchroom or her classroom. The teacher and the teaching assistants collected all the data for the study.

Study Method: Design

The authors used a changing criteria design which is one type of single subject design. In this design, the expectations are gradually increased across phases. Thus, the teacher required Anna to eat more and more food across the study.

In baseline, the food were presented. If Anna did not eat within 2.5 minutes, the food was removed. After 10 minutes, Anna was allowed to eat her preferred foods.

Study Method: Intervention Technique

The researchers taught the teacher how to implement the intervention prior to the beginning of intervention.

Prespecified Reinforcement (First-Then)

During intervention, the teacher presented the new food on a separate plate and told Anna when she ate the new food (small amount at first), she could have her preferred food.

Reinforcement

Additionally, Anna earned verbal praise and stickers for eating new food. Anna cashed her stickers in for small trinkets.

Prompts

The teaching staff verbally prompted Anna to eat her lunch, if, 30 seconds after swallowing she had not taken her bite.

Demand Fading (Increasing the Volume Slowly)

Gradually, the teaching staff increased the amount of food that Anna needed to eat in order to get her preferred foods.

Results

By the 23rd lunch session, Anna consumed 100% of the new food and she repeated this on the 24th and 25th lunch sessions. The authors came back to assess her eating 2 weeks, 6 weeks, and 7 months later. Anna continued to eat 100% of her new food.

Congrats to Anna and the research team on such a successful intervention. ABA works!

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How did Friday get here so quickly? School starts back for us next week so we are going to try to squeeze every last minute of fun time with our families. In wrapping up our description of a week-long feeding therapy “boot camp”, we thought this cartoon would be perfect! Thanks to Rick Detorie for the wonderful One Big Happy humor.

Readers, what strategies have you tried to distract your children while eating?

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Technically, Jackson met our requirements for graduation at breakfast on the 4th day. He successfully ate breakfast with his mom and his brother and he engaged in almost no challenging behavior. However, before we discharge, we like to make sure that our clients can generalize their behaviors to school or to a community restaurant (or both!). So, we used Friday to work on generalization.

Pretzel’s at the Mall

Kendall told us that one of the most difficult times had been when they went to the mall and Jackson tried to get pretzels. Since starting the gluten-free diet, he would not be able to eat those pretzels and she worried that he would have a tantrum if she told him no. So, we agreed to meet her at the mall to work on an intervention.

Jackson walked right past the pretzels to meet us in the middle of the mall. However, when we arrived, he took off walking. He was a man on a mission! He went straight for the pretzels. We told him “no pretzels today, we are going to eat lunch”. He grabbed his communication device and typed out “PRETZEL”. We affirmed his request and simply restated that we would not be having a pretzel but instead we would go to lunch and he could eat pizza (we had already selected a gluten-free pizza place). We showed him the picture of a pizza.

Jackson took off walking through the mall. He had one things on his mind: Pretzels! After circling the mall and arriving at the pretzels again, he walked over to the display and pointed. We reminded him again that we would not be having pretzel and that we were going to lunch. With that, he decided it was time to leave and he proceeded to his car.

Well that seemed a little too easy.

Planet Pizza

 

When we arrived at Planet Pizza, the manager was restocking the chips. Yes, you remembered correctly. Jackson has a thing for Lay’s potato chips. He was super excited! He went over, picked up a bag of chips and appeared happy as a clam. We reminded him that he was here for pizza and not for chips. We asked him to put the chips back. At first he was reluctant but we remained firm. Please put the chips away, we are going to eat pizza. Jackson put the chips away and we asked him to pick out a drink.

Prior to starting feeding therapy, Jackson only drank water. He drank water out of a faucet and out of the Long Island Sound. Wherever he could find water, Jackson drank it! We told him, “No water today, pick something else.” He told us no but we held up two types of juice and he picked one.

Then we escorted him to find a table while the pizza cooked.

  1. Note: Kendall brought her own dairy free cheese and the staff cooked the gluten-free crust with the special cheese.
  2. Note: Bring things to do in restaurants while you wait!

While we are great at helping kids in the community, we have so much knowledge and training that we have a hard time remembering to teach the parents all that we know. We forgot to prep Kendall for the things that Jackson would need to keep himself busy. Luckily, we had iPhones so he tried to watch YouTube while waiting.

Jackson made a few noises during his wait. Unfortunately, restaurant patrons stared at us. The staring makes all parents uncomfortable. We let Kendall know that bringing Jackson out actually helps to educate others. Plus, Jackson has every right to be there too!

Success

The pizza arrived after only a 15-minute wait but then we had to wait for it to cool. Finally, Jackson could try pizza for the first time in many, many years. He loved it! He didn’t mind the spinach or the broccoli. He even picked up his fork and stabbed a few pieces on his own. He ate the entire piece that Kendall had prepared for him. He did this without aggression and without any expels!

Jackson still has some skills to work on:

  • cutting his own food
  • stabbing his own food using the fork
  • scooping his own food with a spoon
  • learning to wait quietly at restaurants
  • wiping his mouth with a napkin without reminders

However, he has come a tremendous distance in only 5 short days. Congratulations Kendall on all of your hard work. Jackson is a champion eater and you are a champion mom!

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Needless to say, Rebecca and I were running on fumes at this point in our week. We started the day hoping that 3 of 5 clients would graduate if all goes well. Because of his great success, Jackson was scheduled for only 2 meals: Breakfast with his brother and dinner with his father watching.

Breakfast with Brother

For breakfast, Kendall brought bananas, yogurt (coconut milk), gluten-free hot cereal, and raspberries. Jackson engaged in quite a few behaviors today which is common each time we change the conditions. He engaged in 20 verbal/vocal refusals, 6 physical refusals, and he cried two times. His brother, on the other hand, gagged a few times and had to leave the room several times. Hmmmm, maybe we should enroll another client in feeding therapy!

Dinner with Dad

Jackson was ready to show off his mad skills to his dad. Kendall brought sauerkraut and wieners, quinoa, beets, pears, and dried cranberries. What a champion! Jackson ate everything and he had only 2 gags! (beets would make us gag as well!) Throughout the meal, Jackson engaged in only 5 instances of verbal/vocal refusal. Dad was floored! He could not believe how much progress his son had made in just 4 days.

We also taught Jackson how to eat potato chips without making a mess. In the past, he ate them like a wood chipper with chip crumbs flying around. We taught him how to place the entire chip in his mouth without making crumbs.

Be sure to tune in tomorrow to see how Jackson handles going to the mall when he cannot eat his favorite Auntie Annie pretzels!

 

 

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Feeding therapy has been going great. So well, in fact, that one of our clients has transitioned to eating at home with his mom! Two other clients are eating with their moms at the clinic. Jackson is one of those two!

Kendal came in bragging about the standoff she had with Jackson the night before. When asked who won, she replied, “me, of course!”

Breakfast Day 2

Jackson started the day by generalizing his eating skills to a new therapist. Jackson ate gluten-free waffles, bacon, blueberries, and hash browns. He also started working on cutting his food. He consumed a total of 36 bites.

He engaged in only 21 verbal or vocal behaviors and only 1 attempt to elope.

Lunch Day 3

At lunch, we transitioned Kendall in to the driver’s seat. She supervised Jackson as he ate tuna sandwich on gluten-free bread, apple slices, and salad with dressing. His sitter, Chardonnay, made humus and he ate that with cucumbers and corn chips.

During lunch, Jackson realized that his mom was “in on it”. He cried for the first time. In fact, he cried 26 times. He laid on the floor and he refused to eat for 3 minutes. He also engaged in verbal/vocal refusal a total of 26 times. But, he continued to eat. He ate a total of 53 bites of food with only 1 gag and 4 expels.

At one point, Jackson reached out to grab his mom and she showed him her open palm indicating that he could push his chin on her hand for deep pressure. He pushed his chin into her hand over and over. He leaned back up in his chair and was ready to eat again. Kendall looked around at her fan club (therapists, interns, and sitters) with tears in her eyes. Then she said beneath her tears of joy, “In the past he would have attacked me.”

Dinner Day 3

Kendal and Jackson came back for dinner with baked ham and pineapple, baked sweet potato, raisins, and green beans. In this meal, he didn’t cry, not even once. Instead, we saw the opposite. Jackson was happy and laughing and felling wonderful. He ate a total of 58 bites. He engaged in 10 verbal and vocal behaviors and he pressed on his eyes a few times. He did not try to elope and he did not gag at all. He tried to expel just one bite. He started engaging in some eye pressing but we coached Kendall how to interrupt the behavior without calling attention to it.

As if all this learning was not enough, Jackson learned how to drink from a straw! A few years ago, he knew how to drink from a straw but he lost the skill. Using coconut milk, a newly acquired beverage, Jackson quickly re-mastered it!

Day 3 was a continued success. Check back tomorrow to see how Jackson handles eating with his brother, going to the mall, eating at a restaurant, and having Dad observe.

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The feeding clinic was busier than we had expected (or perhaps we were too ambitious to think we could post every day). So, we will post Jackson’s daily progress each day this week.

For starters, we could not believe all of the progress that our clients made in the first 2 days. By the end of day 2, three children were eating well! One child was having severe withdrawals from his gluten and dairy. If you have not heard of this (his physicians had not either), you can read more about what another little girl went through as she came off her addicting Sonic Grilled Cheese here. The other little boy who is still struggling to eat has a combination of physiological (he has oral motor delays) and non-physiological feeding difficulties (behavioral issues around food preferences for flavor and texture).

Changing Reinforcers

Meanwhile, we tried to move Jackson from fluff to a different, more natural reinforcer. Jackson loves Lay’s potato chips so we tried to see if he would eat new foods in exchange for a few chips. Again, Kendall had to keep Jackson from having chips during other times of the day and this is not an easy task but she was a champ and she made it happen.

Breakfast Day 2

Jackson had gluten-free pancakes, sausage, strawberries, and grilled tomatoes for breakfast. He consumed a total of 30 bites. After the 8th bite, we began requiring Jackson to eat 2 bites before he could get his reinforcer. As his food acceptance and consumption increased, his behaviors decreased. He expelled only 4 bites, he tried to elope only twice, and he had only 12 instances of aggression towards Missy. Jackson engaged in 9 instances of verbal and vocal refusal and he engaged in 8 instances of physical refusal. How many adolescents do you know who will eat grilled tomato for breakfast? What a champ!

Lunch Day 2

Lunch on the second day of therapy included coconut milk yogurt with gluten-free granola, ham sandwich with gluten-free bread, oranges, and gluten-free cookies for dessert. Jackson consumed another 30 bites during lunch. He expelled food on 9 times but he did not elope at all. He stood up once as if to elope but he sat down when Missy asked. Jackson had 2 gags during lunch and both were with oranges. Fruit has proven to be hard for him. This is probably due to its wet texture. Jackson has dyspraxia so he obviously has some oral motor issues as well. He is learning to chew and keep his lips closed but this will take continued practice.

Jackson engaged in 20 instances of verbal and vocal refusal and 12 instances of physical refusal (e.g., turning his head or pushing the spoon). Jackson started a new behavior of bouncing up and down in his seat. It was unclear to us if this was a new avoidant behavior or if he was happy about learning to eat these new foods. He engaged in this behavior 22 times.

Dinner Day 2

For dinner on the second day of therapy, Jackson ate cooked carrots, white rice, chicken, and grapes. He ate 3/4 of an entire chicken breast, a portion of rice, and several carrots. After dinner, Jackson ate a gluten-free cupcake with dairy free icing. In the past, he only wanted to lick the icing so Kendall wanted him to learn to eat the cupcake and icing together. He ate about 1/2 of the dessert.

Jackson’s behaviors improved dramatically for this least meal of the day. He engaged in only 1 vocal refusal. He stood up 3 times (but he sat down when asked). He tried to take Missy’s gloves off once (as if to finish the meal). Jackson gagged only once during this meal (over the carrot). After the first 8 bites, we moved Jackson to a fixed ratio schedule meaning that he had to eat 3 bites of new food before he could have a chip.

Jackson’s sitter, Chardonnay learned to help with data collection during this session (thanks for the help–any chance you want a job?!?!). Meanwhile, Kendall will learn to implement the intervention tomorrow. Stay tuned to see how Jackson progresses!

 

 

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