Title: Use of Props During Mealtime for Children With Autism Spectrum Disorders: Self-Regulation and Reinforcement
Citation: Muesbeck J, St John BM, Kant S, Ausderau KK. (2018). Use of Props During Mealtime for Children With Autism Spectrum Disorders: Self-Regulation and Reinforcement. OTJR (Thorofare N J), 38(4):254-260. doi: 10.1177/1539449218778558.
Abstract: Mealtime is an important family routine commonly affected for families with children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Limited research is available regarding strategies families incorporate to support mealtime engagement. The purpose of this study was to explore the frequency and characterize the purpose of Props used during mealtimes with children with ASD. A total of 12 families with a child(ren), N = 14, aged 2 to 7 years, with ASD and mealtime challenges or eating difficulties participated in video-recorded mealtimes in their home. Independent coders analyzed mealtimes for the frequency and purpose of Props (items used to support child participation during mealtime). Props were used by 75% of families ( n = 9); common Props included toys, electronics, and books. Props were used primarily as a self-regulation tool for the child and occasionally as positive reinforcement for specific behaviors. Overall, Props were used to support child engagement in mealtime. Occupational therapists should consider using Props as individualized, accessible, and supportive mealtime interventions for families and children.
About the Lab: Karla Ausderau’s research focuses on families and children with ASD. She studies daily occupations, specifically eating and mealtimes, to elucidate the impact on the child’s health, family wellness, and overall daily participation. In addition, she studies sensory features in children with ASD, including their development, characterization, and impact on daily participation. With better characterization of feeding and sensory behaviors and understanding their influence on daily participation, Ausderau hopes to be able to develop more effective assessment tools, targeted treatment strategies, and improved outcomes for children and families.