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.


47th Annual Convention; Online; 2021

All times listed are Eastern time (GMT-4 at the time of the convention in May).

Event Details

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Symposium #277
Recent Developments in Assessment for Children With Feeding Disorders
Sunday, May 30, 2021
3:00 PM–4:50 PM
Area: CBM/DDA; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Laura E Phipps (Munroe-Meyer Institute, University of Nebraska Medical Center)
Discussant: Jennifer R. Zarcone (The May Institute)

Approximately 25% to 45% of typically developing children and up to 80% of children with a developmental disability display feeding problems (Manikam & Perman, 2000; Volkert & Piazza, 2012). Children with feeding disorders typically engage in high levels of inappropriate mealtime behavior and exhibit highly restrictive diets (e.g., limited food variety, limited consumption of various textures, total food refusal). The purpose of the current symposium is to review recent developments in the assessment of inappropriate mealtime behavior and food preferences for children with feeding disorders. The first presentation will examine correspondence among results from extended functional analyses, brief functional analyses, and within-session analyses of inappropriate mealtime behavior. The second presentation will evaluate the accuracy of trial-based functional analysis procedures compared to extended functional analysis procedures in determining the maintaining variables of inappropriate mealtime behavior. The third presentation will examine results from paired stimulus preference assessments with foods before and after treatment for children with feeding disorders. The last presentation will analyze results from free- and random choice preference assessments to identify shifts in food preferences during clinical treatment for children with feeding disorders.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): feeding disorder, functional analysis, preference assessment

Correspondence Between Brief and Within-Session Analyses and Extended Functional Analyses of Inappropriate Mealtime Behavior

CONNOR M SHEEHAN (Center for Pediatric Behavioral Health), Melanie H. Bachmeyer-Lee (Center for Pediatric Behavioral Health; University of North Carolina Wilmington), Caitlin A. Kirkwood (Center for Pediatric Behavioral Health, University of North Carolina Wilmington)

Functional analyses are the predominant assessment used to identify environmental variables maintaining inappropriate mealtime behavior in children with feeding disorders (Bachmeyer et al., 2009; Piazza et al., 2003). Despite the utility of functional analyses in determining the function of problem behaviors, concerns regarding the duration of time required to conduct the assessment have been raised (Iwata and Dozier, 2008). Prolonged assessments not only extend the overall time reinforcing problem behavior but can also delay the onset of treatment. The purpose of this study was to examine correspondence among results from 42 extended functional analyses, brief functional analysis, and within-session analyses of inappropriate mealtime behavior. Brief and within-session analyses were derived from extended functional analyses and further examined to evaluate correspondence using visual-inspection using methodology similar to that described by Kahng and Iwata (1999). Of the 116 functions assessed from the extended functional analyses, results indicated correspondence in 80% of the brief and 78% of within-session analyses. We discuss implications for using a modified version of the standard functional analysis in terms of developing the most specific, effective, and efficient interventions for children with feeding difficulties.

An Evaluation of Trial-Based Functional Analysis of Inappropriate Mealtime Behavior
ASHLEY ANDERSEN (University of Nebraska Medical Center's Munroe-Meyer Institute), Bethany Hansen (University of Nebraska Medical Center's Munroe Meyer Institute ), Kathryn M. Peterson (Children's Specialized Hospital; Rutgers University)
Abstract: Functional analyses allow clinicians to develop a treatment targeting the specific maintaining variables of a child’s inappropriate mealtime behavior (Piazza et al., 2003). Researchers have demonstrated that treatments targeting both maintaining variables (i.e., escape and attention) result in clinically significant changes in responding, whereas treatments targeting only one variable (e.g., escape but not attention) may not reduce inappropriate mealtime behavior and increase acceptance to clinically acceptable levels for some children (Bachmeyer et al., 2019). Researchers have suggested that a trial-based functional analysis is a procedural modification that can increase efficiency of the functional analysis (Saini, Fisher, et al., 2019). This study evaluated the accuracy of trial-based functional analysis procedures compared to extended functional analysis procedures to determine the maintaining variables of inappropriate mealtime behaviors. Experimenters determined the correspondence between trial-based and extended functional analyses and evaluated the efficiency and acceptability of each analysis. Experimenters evaluated treatments informed by the trial-based and extended function analyses to determine if the analyses prescribed efficacious treatment to increase acceptance and decrease inappropriate mealtime behavior. Implications for the assessment and treatment of inappropriate mealtime behavior are discussed.
Evaluation of Preference Shifts Following Treatment for Picky Eaters
JASON A CHURCH (University of Kansas), Jessica Foster Juanico (University of Kansas)
Abstract: Picky eating is defined as the consumption of a limited number of foods from each food group (Food Selectivity, 2018). There are various challenges associated with picky eating including a restricted diet and challenging mealtime behavior (Bandini et al., 2010; Penrod, Gardella, & Fernand, 2012). We were interested in identifying whether there were any shifts in preference for nonpreferred foods following treatment. Therefore, prior to and following treatment (i.e., differential reinforcement of alternative behavior with and without nonremoval of the spoon) with eight children, we conducted paired stimulus preference assessments (Fisher et al., 1992) with high-preferred and nonpreferred foods to determine whether there were shifts in preference or if there were selections of previously nonpreferred foods. Results demonstrated that five children selected and consumed at least one previously nonpreferred food and three children selected and consumed at least one previously nonpreferred food at a higher level than at least one preferred food.
An Extended Replication of an Examination of Food Preferences Before and After Treatment for a Pediatric Feeding Disorder
JASON R. ZELENY (Golisano Center for Special Needs; Upstate Medical University)
Abstract: Exposure to noxious stimuli in the context of eating results in avoidance behavior in nonhuman animals (Garcia & Kellog, 1966), which may be the same mechanism by which feeding disorders can develop in some children. Treatment of a pediatric feeding disorder usually involves, but is not limited to, exposure to foods in the absence of noxious stimuli (Zeleny et al., 2020). However, little is known about the development of food preferences for children with feeding disorders. The goal of our investigation primarily focused on identifying whether intervention for the feeding disorder resulted in preference changes for foods as a function of exposure. In the current investigation, we replicated an earlier study (Zeleny et al., 2020) with additional participants and evaluated whether food preferences of children with feeding disorders changed over the course of intervention. We conducted repeated free- and random-choice preference assessments with foods to which we either exposed or did not expose children with a feeding disorder during clinical treatment. We observed a shift in preference for some children, suggesting that preferences for foods may have changed due to exposure during treatment. However, other children did not exhibit a clear preference change. The results and implications of this analysis will be discussed further.



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