19th September 2014
Yum Yum - I love my food!
A brief case study on a successful increasing food acceptance programme in a young boy with Autism.
Neil, an eight year old with a confirmed diagnosis of autism had been in receipt of home visits from PEAT for approximately 18 months. Neil’s carer had always expressed a desire to increase the number of foods that he would eat (his total number of foods was 6) but was reluctant to do so fearing that he would resist and eventually reject the foods that he did eat. A food programme was introduced in order to help increase the number of foods that he would eat which would increase his peer acceptance and his opportunity for social outlet. New foods were presented to Neil that he could choose from. From initially only touching the food he was then, through gradual exposure and lots of praise, expected to eat a small piece of the food. Face paints and a dressing-up costume were also used as reinforcers for eating or attempting to eat new foods. Other foods were then presented in a same manner and progress was determined by Neil’s acceptance of each stage of the programme. By the end of this session Neil had tried 6 new foods bringing the total to 12! The progress has generalised across all settings with Neil having a pizza party with his friends in school. Neil’s Granny, Eithne, had this to say: “I firmly believe that breaking the task into small increments, using an individual programme geared towards Neil's learning preferences and rewarding small steps really works. Collecting data allowed us to record progress and see tangible results”.