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Behavior Analysis: Research and Practice




Although eating is considered an automatic physiologic process, many children experience feeding difficulties. The purpose of this article is to present a behavior analytic conceptualization of feeding problems and to summarize the empirically supported behavioral interventions for these problems. While negative reinforcement appears to maintain food refusal, classical conditioning may contribute to its initiation. Differential reinforcement of alternative behavior with escape extinction is an empirically supported intervention for feeding problems and has been successfully implemented by trained staff or parents, in multiple settings, with maintained gains over time and generalization to new foods for many children. While the efficacy of behavioral interventions has been established, future research should investigate the individual components of these interventions.


Issue 2, Volume 4 of The Behavior Analyst Today (now called Behavior Analysis: Research and Practice), in which this article was published, is open access.