AIDEN’S CASE STUDY
Aiden first came to SOAR because he was refusing to eat. Because of his complete refusal to eat, Aiden had been given a G-tube (a tube placed through the wall of his stomach that lets food bypass the mouth and throat and instead go directly to the stomach). However, G-tubes are imperfect and frequently result in a shortage of nutrients and associated medical conditions.
Because of the lack of regular nutrients in his diet, Aiden was small for his age and suffered from other vitamin deficiencies. We began by completing a thorough assessment.
We also spoke with Aiden’s gastroenterologist (digestive doctor) to find out if his refusal to eat was caused by a medical condition. His doctor was certain that Aiden possessed all of the “plumbing” to eat orally. He let us know that his refusal to eat was purely due to behavior and nothing medical in nature. He also confirmed that ABA would be an appropriate intervention for Aiden’s refusal to eat.
So we got to work. We began Aiden’s therapy by throwing a “food party.” We had Aiden sit at the table with all of his most special toys (iPad, light up toys, etc.).
While he was playing, we provided him with a very small bit of baby food on a baby size spoon. We didn’t want to start with too much of a demand, so we made it easy. Then, if Aiden let us only touch his lips with the food, we kept the party going. His iPad kept playing, and the fun, exciting party continued. But if he refused even touching his lips with food, we paused the party and removed all the fun stuff for a moment.
Aiden learned pretty quickly that he didn’t even have to eat (rather just touch his lips) and the awesome party kept going. Now, we wanted to be sure we would be successful with this plan, so we took it slowly and always made sure Aiden was having fun.
Over the next couple of years, we slowly asked for more of Aiden: touching lips, touching tongue, holding in mouth and spitting out, holding in mouth for longer, and finally swallowing.
By the end of the first year, Aiden was swallowing baby food! But we were far from done. Now we’d have to teach solid foods and chewing. We gave him some solid food (a bit of chocolate) and, over the course of another year, Aiden was finally chewing and swallowing his food!
By the time he was entering Kindergarten, Aiden was able to sit at the lunch table with classmates and eat a whole piece of pizza! About 6 months after entering kindergarten his gastroenterologist determined that Aiden no longer even needed his g-tube and so with one final procedure, Aiden finally got his G-tube removed!