The Healthy Beginnings feeding program has been a part of the Verbal Beginnings Center for three years as of this June. When I became the director of this program, I set a goal to offer quality ABA-based therapy to address mealtime behavior. Therefore, our therapists include Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBAs) and Registered Behavior Technicians (RBTs) trained specifically in mealtime intervention. Training is rigorous as all of our therapists have to demonstrate competency in procedure implementation and maintain integrity with these procedures on a day to day basis. Put differently, we monitor all of our therapists in order to ensure that they are providing the best possible treatment that can be offered.
The results of our training efforts and the integrity of the intervention being provided are clear. An analysis of 21 children who completed the program found that 94% of goals were achieved during intensive admission. These children participated in ABA-based early intervention programs at the Verbal Beginnings Center, in addition to receiving 1 to 3 meals per day with the Healthy Beginnings team. Some examples of the goals included:
- acceptance of new foods
- drinking from an open cup
- chewing bites of higher texture foods
- reducing problem behavior at mealtime
Goals not achieved were typically explained by underlying medical issues that impacted the skills involved. For instance, one child that completed the program made great progress with accepting chunky purees without vomiting but never could manage a full meal of regular texture foods in a reasonable amount of time.
It goes without saying that outcome data is vital to demonstrating the strength and value of a treatment program. When interviewing potential providers for your child, it can be hard to decide which program to choose. Therefore, I encourage caregivers to ask for tangible data regarding outcomes as any program that is providing quality services should be eager to present this information to you.
Written by: Ben Sarcia, MA, BCBA, LBA