196. The Autism MEAL Plan: Empowering Caregivers to Feed in Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder

Tuesday, October 29
9:45 AM – 11:15 AM
Location: 201-ABC
CE: 1.5
Level 2 – Intermediate
Activity Code: 149623

Children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) often present with food selectivity that most frequently includes a strong preference for starches and snack foods and a strong rejection of fruits and vegetables. This pattern of intake not only puts the child at nutritional risk for nutrient deficiencies and weight concerns, but it also increases parental and family stress during and outside of meals. The Autism MEAL Plan is a multidisciplinary parent training intervention that was created to teach caregivers how to introduce new foods to children with ASD with mild and moderate food selectivity. The Autism MEAL Plan also teaches caregivers how to feed their children a balanced diet in the context of food selectivity as well as how to diversify the diet in a nutritionally meaningful way. This session will discuss the rationale for the creation of the Autism MEAL Plan as well share results from a year long study to determine feasibility as well as efficacy of this parent-mediated intervention.

Learning Objectives:

  • Differentiate between mild, moderate, and severe food selectivity using an established tiered framework.
  • Identify the nutrition concerns most frequently seen in children with ASD.
  • Explain the benefits of using a manualized approach to addressing feeding concerns.

Learning Need Codes:

  • 5180 Developmental disorders (disease/disorder)
  • 5070 Pediatrics (client population)
  • 5410 Client protocols, clinical guidelines (nutritional care)

Performance Indicator:

  • 1.2.2 Identifies the knowledge and skills required to provide service.
  • 8.3.6 Keeps abreast of current nutrition and dietetics knowledge and trends.


  • Rashelle Berry, MPH, MS, RDN

    Nutrition Manager, Children’s Multidisciplinary Feeding Program

    Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta

  • William Sharp, PhD

    Director, Children’s Multidisciplinary Feeding Program

    Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta