Feeding Trauma Advocacy Project

The primary goals for Therapist Neurodiversity Collective’s advocacy project:

  • Raise awareness of the prevalence of traumatic, ABA-informed feeding therapies
  • Give families and adult advocates a platform to share their experiences with traumatic feeding therapies
  • Provide families with resources for reporting unethical providers and programs
  • Use information gained from this project to petition therapy organizations and related organizations to protect children and adults from these practices 

Decades of interdisciplinary research indicate that feeding challenges are common among infants and children regardless of neurotype. Studies reveal that between 20-50% of typically developing children experience feeding difficulties during childhood, while the prevalence of feeding challenges is significantly increased among children with developmental disabilities, rising to 70-89% (Benjasuwantep et. al., 2013).

In fact, eating differences or challenges may be one of the first signs that a child may be neurodivergent. As a result, neurodivergent children often receive feeding therapy services. Unfortunately, many of those services are informed by Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), and the methods used in these therapies are highly disrespectful and potentially traumatic. 

ABA-Informed Feeding Therapies are Dehumanizing to Children of All Neurotypes

ABA-informed feeding therapies rely upon the use of consequences, both rewards, and punishments, to get children to eat. When praise, access to preferred foods, or iPad time don’t coerce children into eating, ABA providers often employ highly aversive and invasive techniques like strapping children into chairs and physically restraining them to force them to eat. 

And many professionals and parents have no idea that children will be subjected to these techniques until they are already enrolled in an intensive behavioral feeding program. 

How Can You Participate?

Individuals and families who are currently experiencing or have already undergone traumatic feeding therapies:

  • May have lingering trauma, and grieve the violations of self-determination and body autonomy.
  • May feel as though their personal agency has been taken.

 

The Therapist Neurodiversity Collective would like to help those individuals regain their sense of agency and autonomy. Individuals and caregivers who would like to share their experiences may email the Collective at feeding@therapistndc.org

Interested individuals will collaborate with a Collective therapy advisor to share their story in the medium that is most comfortable for them. Participants may choose to remain anonymous. 

Help us end the use of dehumanizing and forceful feeding practices.