Research Article  |   February 2019
Parents’ Strategies to Support Mealtime Participation of Their Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder
Author Affiliations
  • Karla K. Ausderau, PhD, OTR/L, is Assistant Professor, Department of Kinesiology, Occupational Therapy Program, and Waisman Center, University of Wisconsin–Madison; kausderau@wisc.edu
  • Brittany St. John, MS, OTR/L, is Graduate Student, Department of Kinesiology, Occupational Therapy Program, University of Wisconsin–Madison.
  • Kristen N. Kwaterski, MS, OTR/L, is Graduate Student, Department of Kinesiology, Occupational Therapy Program, University of Wisconsin–Madison.
  • Beth Nieuwenhuis, MS, OTR/L, is Graduate Student, Department of Kinesiology, Occupational Therapy Program, University of Wisconsin–Madison.
  • Erin Bradley, MS, is Graduate Student, Occupational Therapy Program, Midwestern University, Downers Grove, IL.
Article Information
Autism/Autism Spectrum Disorder / Pediatric Evaluation and Intervention / Research Articles
Research Article   |   February 2019
Parents’ Strategies to Support Mealtime Participation of Their Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, February 2019, Vol. 73, 7301205070p1-7301205070p10. doi:10.5014/ajot.2019.024612
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, February 2019, Vol. 73, 7301205070p1-7301205070p10. doi:10.5014/ajot.2019.024612
Abstract

OBJECTIVE. We identified and described the strategies parents use to support the mealtime participation of their child with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

METHOD. Twelve families with children with ASD (ages 2–7 yr) participated in videotaped mealtime observations. Qualitative content analysis was used to identify strategies families used to facilitate participation.

RESULTS. Six categories were identified: (1) parent intervening and ignoring, (2) meal preparation and adaptability, (3) play and imagination, (4) distractions, (5) positive reinforcements, and (6) modeling. Props—common child objects that support the child’s mealtime participation—were used in the context of multiple strategies. In addition, increased parental vigilance emerged as an important component of all family mealtimes.

CONCLUSION. Families used multiple strategies within and across mealtimes, highlighting the individualistic nature of feeding challenges. Understanding parent mealtime strategies allows for further investigation into the efficacy and development of intervention strategies to promote mealtime participation of children with ASD.