Date of Award




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)


Department of Psychology


Clinical Psychology

Content Description

1 online resource (viii, 153, [1] pages) : illustrations (some color)

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Kristin V Christodulu

Committee Members

Drew A. Anderson, Leslie F. Halpern


autism, food selectivity, Children with autism spectrum disorders, Food preferences in children, Eating disorders in children, Persuasion (Psychology), Autistic children, Children

Subject Categories

Clinical Psychology


The purpose of the current study was to extend and replicate the procedures used by Gentry and Luiselli (2008) and evaluate whether their parent-implemented treatment package was effective in increasing food acceptance in children with an autism spectrum disorder. Additionally, this study evaluated whether food acceptance generalized to foods and mealtimes not targeted during intervention. A secondary purpose of the current study was to evaluate the impact of the same treatment package on each child's inappropriate mealtime behavior. Parents conducted all sessions in a naturalistic setting (i.e., the home) and parent training took place via a consultative model. The primary investigator evaluated food acceptance using a changing criterion with a partial reversal design and evaluated inappropriate mealtime behavior using a non-concurrent multiple baseline across project completers design. Five parent-child dyads were enrolled in the project. Two parent-child dyads dropped out of the project early in the intervention phase. One child's participation resulted in initial, systematic increases in acceptance of target foods, followed by a drop to variable and low levels of acceptance following a 9 and 10 bite criterion. Systematic decreases in bite criterion failed to result in recovered acceptance. Two children's participation resulted in systematic increases in acceptance of target foods during intervention and maintenance phases and decreases in targeted inappropriate mealtime behavior during the maintenance phase. A social validity measure suggested that all parents, including two parent-child dyads that did not complete the project, would recommend this intervention to other parents having the same difficulties. The benefits of this behavioral intervention, implications of the above findings, limitations, and avenues for future research are discussed.