Free
Poster Session
Issue Date: July 2015
Published Online: July 01, 2015
Updated: April 30, 2020
Family Mealtimes and Sensory Processing Patterns
Author Affiliations
  • University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City
  • University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City
Article Information
Autism/Autism Spectrum Disorder / Pediatric Evaluation and Intervention / Sensory Integration and Processing / Assessment/Measurement
Poster Session   |   July 01, 2015
Family Mealtimes and Sensory Processing Patterns
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, July 2015, Vol. 69, 6911500095. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2015.69S1-PO3102
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, July 2015, Vol. 69, 6911500095. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2015.69S1-PO3102
Abstract

Date Presented 4/17/2015

This aim of this study was to understand how children’s sensory preferences influence parent and child behaviors in families of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) during mealtime. Participation in mealtime is a vital occupation for young children’s development, particularly for young children with ASD.

SIGNIFICANCE: Research suggests that participation in mealtime routines and rituals allows for increased socialization and development in children. Particularly for young children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), family mealtimes are a vital time to practice skills. However, studies show that mealtime is often a stressful part of the daily routine for families of children with ASD, partially due to children’s sensory preferences and aversions.
INNOVATION: Previous studies have investigated mealtime behaviors and sensory processing patterns in young children with ASD using questionnaire data; however, research to date has not used an observational method to characterize parent–child interactions among families of children with ASD during mealtimes. It is important to gain a better understanding of the positive parent–child interactions and how children’s mealtime behaviors are influenced by their sensory preferences to create interventions to increase participation during mealtime.
APPROACH: In this study, we attempted to answer the following research questions: (1) What is the frequency of specific parent–child behaviors during mealtime behaviors in families of children with ASD during mealtime? (2) Do children’s sensory preferences influence parent and child behaviors in families of children with ASD during mealtime?
METHOD: In this descriptive cross-sectional study, we used a convenience sample, and we asked caregivers to videotape three mealtimes with their child and to complete questionnaires. Participants between 18 mo and 6 yr were included in this study on the basis of a diagnosis of ASD; recruitment is ongoing. To date, we have enrolled 3 children with ASD and have collected three videos for each child (n = 9 videos).
We collected demographic data using the Infant Toddler Sensory Profile (ITSP) and a behavioral coding system termed the Family Assessment of Mealtime Interaction (FAM–I). The FAM–I is a strengths-based coding system that focuses on positive behaviors of the parent and child that can make mealtime a more constructive experience, and it analyzes behaviors on an occurrence/nonoccurrence basis at a set interval (i.e., 15 s). We used intraclass correlation coefficients (ICCs) to calculate interrater reliability. We also used descriptive statistics to examine frequencies of specific behaviors. Correlations were used to examine the associations between specific child mealtime behaviors and sensory quadrant scores.
RESULTS AND CONCLUSION: Although data analysis is ongoing, preliminary results show aversion to food (13.64% of intervals) and sensory-seeking behaviors (71.05% of intervals). Associations between child sensory quadrant scores and discrete mealtime behaviors will be examined in the future. Coding using the FAM–I to assess parent–child interactions is ongoing, and implications for intervention will be discussed at a later date. Limitations of the current study included a lack of behavioral assessments regarding autism severity or social communication.