AIM: Feeding problems are documented in several developmental disabilities. This paper aims to present early results from the implementation of a day-center, multidisciplinary, intensive, behaviorally-based treatment package for feeding problems, delivered to children with developmental disabilities, namely Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and Intellectual Disability (ID).
METHODS: This is a quasi-experimental design study. Both an AB design (measures were administered at pre- and post-treatment times) and a comparison design were used; a follow-up was carried out after one year from the end of the treatment. A total of 18 children, 8 with ASD and 10 with ID, were included in the study. Body weight, count of food types and textures accepted, length of the meal, count of problem behaviour topographies, count of individuals with proper chewing and BAMBI-18 scores were the measures chosen to check the effectiveness of the treatment.
RESULTS: Statistically significant differences between pre-, post-treatment and follow-up were found, with decreased problem behavior during meals and increased body weight, effective chewing and food variety (type and texture).
CONCLUSIONS: Despite its relatively short duration, this treatment package appeared to be effective in improving behaviors at mealtime in both children with ASD and ID; if confirmed by future studies, the program could represent an interesting model for treating feeding problems in children with special needs, because it is implemented in a day service (with lower costs compared to residential or hospital services), takes advantage from family co-therapy, and can be integrated in a global psychoeducational program.