Parent Training Curriculum to Manage Food Selectivity in Children with Autism


Parent-mediated intervention, titled the Autism Managing Eating Aversions and Limited variety (MEAL) Plan, to reduce mealtime disruptive behavior and expand dietary diversity in young children with autism spectrum disorders.

Key Benefits

  • Hands-on parent training based intervention.
  • Reduces parental stress while developing a child’s positive relationship with food.
  • Economical and socially valid feeding intervention involving minimal clinical contact.

Market Summary

Feeding concerns are common for children with autism. In fact, children with autism are five times more likely than their peers to develop a feeding problem. The feeding concern most commonly observed in children with autism is food selectivity, or eating a limited variety of foods. The existing educational materials provide information to read and learn strategies for caregivers of children with autism but lack hands-on parent training.

Technical Summary

Emory University researchers, in collaboration with Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta experts, have developed a manual-based parent training curriculum called the Autism Managing Eating Aversions and Limited variety (MEAL) Plan. The Autism MEAL Plan is intended to be led by a psychologist, Board Certified Behavior Analyst® (BCBA®), or related expert, as well as a dietitian in a group format. The materials include a parent handbook with summaries of the sessions, worksheets to assess the parents understanding and application of the course material, and the therapist’s manual. Using role plays, video examples, homework assignments and live meal observations with coaching, this feeding intervention helps reduce parental stress associated with moderate food selectivity in children with autism.

Developmental Stage

Manual has been developed and used in a randomized control study yielding positive and promising results.


Sharp, W. G. et al. (2014). Autism, 18(6), 712-722.
Sharp, W.G. et al. (2019). The Journal of Pediatrics, 211,185-192.

Patent Information

Tech ID: 19010
Published: 8/29/2019