Evaluation of a parent implemented intervention for food selectivity in children with autism.
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Science
Food selectivity is a common problem in many children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). While research into this area is beginning to develop, there are currently few studies investigating the use of parent-implemented interventions within this population. The present study aimed to teach parents to implement multi-component behavioural interventions at home to ameliorate the food selectivity of their children. The study also aimed to show that these interventions could increase children’s preference for previously nonpreferred foods. Five children and their parents participated. The interventions delivered to the children were tailored to meet their needs and to fit within the context of their families. Each of these interventions was composed of antecedent, positive reinforcement and escape extinction strategies. Parents recorded their children’s food acceptance and disruptive behaviours during each intervention session. In addition, preference assessments were conducted in order to track changes in the children’s preferences for the target foods. The results showed that all of the parents were able to introduce at least one new food to their children’s diets during the intervention. Further, four of the five children showed an improvement in their preference for the targeted foods. These results were maintained at follow-up, although two of the children had only maintained some of the foods that had been introduced. All of the parents reported that their children consumed more foods at follow-up than they had during baseline and indicated that they thought the interventions had been effective. These results indicate that parents are able to implement multi-component behavioural interventions to increase the range of foods in their children’s diets and improve their children’s preference for these foods.