Behavioral Assessment and Treatment of Pediatric Feeding Disorders

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ABSTRACT.Pediatric feeding disorders are estimated to occur in as many as one in every four infants and children, and when serious can require numerous, costly and sustained interventions. For over a decade research has cumulated evidence on the contributions of Behavior Analysis in understanding and remediating some types of pediatric feeding disorders. The systematic use of this body of evidence in conjunction with other approaches (medical, nutrition, occupational therapy, physical therapy, and so forth) is being carried out on an inpatient treatment unit at the Kennedy Krieger Institute. Key aspects are described here, including direct observation behavior assessment, approaches for increasing and decreasing feeding behavior, skill acquisition, transfer of treatment gains, and parent training. The results based on case studies and overall program evaluation indicate that medically complicated, severe feeding disorders can be treated successfully in a few months with a multidisciplinary approach which incorporates behavioral procedures. J Dev Behav Pediatr 15:278–291, 1994. Index terms: pediatric feeding disorders, food refusal, failure to thrive, tube dependence.

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