Treatment of Children with Feeding Problems and Autism Spectrum Disorder:

An Evidence-Based Treatment


General Information

 Treatment of Children with Feeding Problems and Autism Spectrum Disorder: An Evidence-Based Treatment

T. Lindsey Burrell, PhD  & Lawrence Scahill, MSN, PhD

Live! Friday December 11, 2020
11:00 am – 2:00 pm eastern (New York)

Recording Access Period  December 12 – December 21, 2020


Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) often have co-occurring behavioral and medical conditions that contribute to overall impairment. In pre-school age and young school-age children, there is an estimated five-fold increased risk of feeding problems compared to the general pediatric population. Moderate to severe feeding problems may meet criteria for Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID), which is defined by oral food restriction resulting in failure to meet nutritional needs, maintain energy needs, and/or interference with psychosocial functioning. There is a multi-faceted etiology of feeding problems, and the severity and impact can range from mild to severe. Moderate to severe feeding problems warrant intervention. The most researched and well supported treatment for feeding problems involves behaviorally based intervention implemented by trained clinicians. A growing body of research, however, suggests parent training can be used to address feeding problems in children with ASD. We developed and tested a structured parent-mediated intervention, Managing Eating Aversions and Limited variety (MEAL) Plan, for children with ASD and moderate feeding problems. Results indicated that MEAL Plan was superior to parent education in a 16-week randomized trial with participants in the MEAL Plan condition having significantly less disruptive mealtime behavior and increased oral intake of non-preferred foods. The purpose of this course is to help providers recognize moderate feeding problems as well as the resulting impact on the child and family, and improve knowledge of evidence-based treatment to address feeding problems in children with ASD.

Learning Objectives

At the conclusion of the class, participants will be able to: 

  • Identify the medical, nutritional, behavioral, and developmental factors contributing to the etiology and impact of feeding problems.       
  • Identify treatments to address feeding problems in children with ASD. 
  • Identify the variables that influence treatment decision making for children with feeding problems and ASD.
  •  Identify the purpose, research support, and clinical utility of the Autism MEAL Plan

Presenter Bio and Disclosure Statement

T. Lindsey Burrell, PhD is an Assistant Professor at Emory University School of Medicine. She received her PhD in clinical psychology at Texas Tech University. She continued her training through the clinical internship and post-doctoral fellowship at the Marcus Autism Center. Dr. Burrell’s research focuses on developing, evaluating and delivering parent-mediated interventions to improve feeding in young children. Dr. Burrell provides clinical services through the Children’s Multidisciplinary Feeding Program at the Marcus Autism Center.

Lawrence Scahill, MSN, PhD is Professor of Pediatrics at the Emory School of Medicine and Director of Clinical Trials at the Marcus Autism Center. Dr. Scahill is internationally recognized as an expert in the design and conduct of clinical trials in autism spectrum disorder (ASD). He joined the Emory faculty in 2012. Dr. Scahill played a leadership role in the federally-funded Research Units on Pediatric Psychopharmacology Autism Network and the Research Units on Behavioral Intervention. These multi-site networks have completed several large-scale clinical trials that evaluated medications, behavioral interventions, and the combination of medication with behavioral intervention. He is currently the Emory site principal investigator in the multisite leucovorin trial in school age children with ASD and language delay, and principal investigator in the Department of Defense study of Direct Instruction Language program. Dr. Scahill is author or co-author of 300 publications on assessment and treatment of children with developmental disabilities and psychiatric disorders.

The presenter(s) and/or presenters’ family members do not have financial
arrangement or affiliation with any of the products, organizations, or programs mentioned during this talk.



Approximate Schedule
11:00 -11:10 am: Introduction to Feeding Problems in ASD
11:10 – 11:25 am: Etiology and Impact of Feeding Problems
11:25 – 11:40 am: Treatments to Address Feeding Problems in ASD
11:40 am – 12:00 pm: Matching Treatment Approach to Presenting Concern
12:00 – 12:20 pm: History of Parent Training in Children with ASD
12:20 -12:30 pm: Break
12:30 – 1:00 pm: Introduction to the Autism MEAL Plan
1:00 – 1:30 pm: Autism MEAL Plan Curriculum
1:30 – 1:50 pm: Research Support for the Autism MEAL Plan
1:50 – 2:00 pm: Questions & Answers
2:00 pm: Evaluation, post-test and code submission forms

Credit Hour Information

Behavior Analysts earn 3 CEUs* (Learning)  Psychologists earn 3 CEs*                                   Occupational Therapists earn.3 CEUs*         Speech Pathologists  earn .3 ASHA CEUs** Approved thru Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta (Intermediate level; Professional area)             

Must pass post-test with 80% or above and submit all attendance codes

  • CEs not available for other professions

*CE for viewing Live or Recording          ** CE for viewing LIVE ONLY

For ABAC’s continuing education approvals statements please view our Continuing Education page

Target Audience

Professionals for whom the topic is within their scope of practice. We welcome students and others who are interested in the topic to join us.

Not all interested parties may receive continuing education for this event. Check credit hour information for professions eligible for continuing education. Please also check the level of the event and learning objectives to make sure it is appropriate for you.