Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.


38th Annual Convention; Seattle, WA; 2012

Event Details

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Symposium #327
CE Offered: BACB
New Directions in Research and Treatment of Feeding Problems in Children
Monday, May 28, 2012
10:30 AM–11:50 AM
4C-3 (Convention Center)
Area: CBM; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Becky Penrod (California State University, Sacramento)
Discussant: Katharine Gutshall (Center for Autism and Related Disorders, Inc.)
CE Instructor: Becky Penrod, Ph.D.

Feeding problems in children has become an increasing concern; such problems may include, food selectivity, food refusal, and excessive mealtime durations. The current symposium describes research evaluating treatments designed to address some of these problems that have received little attention in the literature. The first presentation describes a sequential component analysis of various components designed to increase the pace of self-feeding; the second presentation describes a treatment for food selectivity in which a high-probabiity instructional sequence is combined with low-probability demand fading in an effort to increase consumption of novel food; finally, the last presentation reviews the relevance of flavor conditioning research in the understanding of feeding problems in children


An Evaluation of a Progressive High-Probability Instructional Sequence Combined with Low-Probability Demand Fading in the Treatment of Food Selectivity

BECKY PENROD (California State University, Sacramento), Laura Gardella (California State University, Sacramento), Jonathan Fernand (California State University, Sacramento)

Few studies have examined the effects of the high-probability instructional sequence in the treatment of food selectivity, and results of these studies have been mixed (e.g., Dawson et al., 2003; Patel et al., 2007). The present study extended previous research on the high-p instructional sequence by combining this procedure with low-probability demand fading, with two boys with autism (9 and 10 years old) who had a history of food selectivity and engaged in active food refusal behaviors when presented with novel foods. Response requirements were gradually faded from responses the child would tolerate (e.g., touching the food) to the final requirement of chewing and swallowing the food. The antecedent-based intervention was implemented in the absence of escape extinction and was effective in increasing food consumption for both participants. Possible mechanisms responsible for the effectiveness of the intervention are discussed along with directions for future research.

Increasing the Pace of Self-Feeding in Children with Feeding Problems
ALLYNE MARCON-DAWSON (California State University, Sacramento), Becky Penrod (California State University, Sacramento), Colleen Whelan (California State University, Sacramento)
Abstract: The slow pace of self-feeding has been the focus of a very limited amount of research; only two behavioral studies have been published addressing the problem (Luiselli, 1988; Girolami et al., 2009), both of which used consequent interventions (physical prompts and differential reinforcement, respectively) to increase the pace of self-feeding. The purpose of the present study was to identify treatment components necessary to decrease mealtime duration by introducing each component in a sequential fashion. Participants included 2 boys between the ages of 3 and 6 who took 45 minutes or longer to complete meals. Treatment components included differential reinforcement (in which the child would earn a preferred stimulus following the meal), verbal prompts, a token board (in which the child would earn tokens throughout the meal exchangeable for high preferred edibles or tangibles), and response cost (in which the child would lose tokens). In all phases of treatment, a visual timer was included and the child was told that he would earn access to a preferred item/activity (selected prior to the meal) contingent on finishing within the allotted time. For one participant, mealtime duration was decreased during the first treatment phase consisting of differential reinforcement, and for the second participant, mealtime duration was decreased with the use of differential reinforcement plus verbal prompts.

Flavor Conditioning and the Implications for the Treatment of Feeding Difficulties

JAMIE JOHNSTON (Autism Spectrum Therapies), Mitch Fryling (California State University, Los Angeles)

Experimental psychologists have long been interested in the development of flavor preferences. A great deal of research on conditioning food preferences has been conducted using rats as subjects. Results from this line of research have identified several variables that have an effect on the conditioning of flavor preferences that may have implications for the development of food preferences for individuals with feeding difficulties. For example, four methods of developing food preferences have been identified (as cited in Capaldi, 1996); a) mere exposure, b) medicine effect, c) flavor-flavor learning, and d) flavor-nutrient learning, that may be incorporated in the treatment of feeding disorders. What is most interesting is results from research on these methods have produced outcomes that may at times be counter-intuitive to common practices in behavior analysis. While this research has obvious implications for the understanding of feeding problems, it also may contribute to our understanding of developing flavor preferences more generally, a growing concern in our culture. This presentation provides a brief overview of some of the research on flavor conditioning, describes several implications, and suggests areas for further research in behavior analysis.




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