Eating problems are common among children with and without disabilities and can be highly stressful for families. This may look like picky eating, highly selective eating– that is, only eating a limited type, texture, or other dimensions of food– or total food refusal in which the child does not consume any solid food orally. Although prevalent, these issues are highly amenable to treatment. Our approach to assessing and treating eating problems is to provide a relaxed environment in which children are motivated to interact with and eventually eat new and nonpreferred foods. The children are given the choice to participate in the treatment and always have the option to leave or take a break. The process is partly child-led, and the children teach us the pace at which to progress expectations.
Our aim is to teach others how to safely and effectively assess and treat mealtime problem behavior and selective eating. This is achieved with a four-step process. First, an FTF Consultant will guide consultees through the initial steps of the assessment process via Zoom videoconferencing. FTF will provide materials to screen clients for inclusion, select foods to populate the assessments, and conduct interviews to discover the possible contingencies that maintain food selectivity/refusal. The next step is a full-day on-site seminar in which the assessment and treatment process is illustrated via lecture and multiple case examples. The third step is on-site implementation support in which FTF Consultants guide the process of designing and implementing personalized assessments for two children or clients served by the host organization. The last step involves weekly support via Zoom videoconferencing in which an FTF Consultant supports the organization’s personnel in implementing the progressive treatment.