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Behavioral Feeding Therapy

Updated: Feb 26

Written by: Sindy Victor, MS, BCBA, LBA

What is it?

Overview: Trying to get a child to eat foods they have an aversion to may cause challenging behaviors such as tantrums or aggression and in extreme cases gagging and vomiting. As a result, mealtimes often become stressful events for the child and their caregiver(s). Behavioral Feeding Therapy employs the evidence based methods of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) to address food selectivity, food refusal, and/or refusal to self feed. When these problems persist, autistic children are less likely to thrive in the academic and community settings, as well as, more likely to become obese (Tereshko, Weiss, & Olive, 2021).

How Can ABA Therapy Help?

Program Description: We will use a variety of behavior techniques and principles to address feeding concerns including: differential reinforcement of alternate behaviors, extinction, and food prompt shaping & fading techniques. The Behavior Analyst will conduct a series of assessments to help determine mealtime routines/patterns of eating, preferences, reasons for food refusal or selectivity and conditions that are associated with success or failure to eat. Data collection and analysis is an important component of any feeding therapy allowing the intervention team to monitor the effectiveness of the intervention; an assistant assessor or behavior technician will present at all times. Family participation is required.

Program Criteria:

  • Does your child display anxiety or stress induced related behaviors during mealtime (aggression, avoidance, etc.?)

  • Does your child eat less than 30 different types of foods or prefer to eat foods of only a specific color and type? (ex. only eats cheese, doritos, and pizza?)

  • Does your child only eat foods made by a specific brand or with a specific texture?

  • Does your child engage in challenging or unwanted behaviors when new foods are presented?

Frequency & Duration Of Therapy:

Feeding Therapy could take up to one week of intensive training with two to three visits from behavioral specialists per week. Feeding tube patients are likely to require more intensive training over a longer period of time.


In the home or location where feeding and difficulties most often take place.

Multidisciplinary Provider Collaboration:

Medical rule out is required to determine the cause of feeding difficulty. Input from Dietitians, Nutritionists, Gastroenterologists, Holistic Health Specialists, and related providers is welcomed prior to, during, and after establishing a comprehensive feeding plan. Click here to learn more about how we collaborate with multidisciplinary service providers.

Feeding Behavior Consultation:

Following mastery of feeding therapy criteria, our team will be available for follow-up questions and accountability as needed and in order to maintain learned skills.

Cost Of Services:

Parents/caregivers are expected to plan and prepare all foods before comprehensive food training begins. Cost of therapy may be covered by your insurance, contact us today to verify your child or loved one's eligibility for autism therapy services today!


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