Food Tolerance Program

We had our ABA consultant (let’s call her Sarah) come to the house again today.  Remember the home program that I was telling you about that she is setting up for us?  Well Maggie is taking to it really well – likely because she is so used to working that way at school and when she was in IBI.  I don’t think she would ever choose to do her bin work, but as soon as she sees any indication that we are going to work on it, she starts pulling out work and doing it.  She has a bit of a dramatic “let’s get this over-with” flair, but she’s doing it!

So we talked about adding some additional mini-goals that we could work on during our block, and Maggie’s limited food tolerances was something that we decided to target.  Some of what Maggie will eat is a bit of a moving target, but she will not eat a vegetable.  In any form.  And meat is to be in nugget form or maybe kielbasa form on a good day.

So Sarah suggested a mini food tolerance program, and we began work on that today.  I will admit that I didn’t want to work on that at all today because I knew we were in for a fight.  I’m tired of fighting.  I may have said things along the lines of “This was your big idea so you can deal with it” to Nerdguy.  With more swear words.

And he did deal with it.  He diligently cut up small pieces of carrot, celery and pineapple, and prepared to sit through the storm of trying to get Maggie to eat them.  Maggie loves all of those things.  But as toys.  She thinks vegetables are for carrying around and singing to – never for eating.

I stood nearby washing dishes and waiting for someone to flip the table.

Sarah ran the program first to show us what it should look like.  We were instructed to make sure that Maggie didn’t eat for at least an hour before doing the program – she has to be hungry.  That was a bit tricky after school, but not the nightmare I thought it would be.  The next step is to present a first-then board and a choice board.  Maggie had to choose what she was working for – she chose chips.  Sarah said that they don’t normally have them work for food in this program, but it was going to be the most motivating for Maggie so we went with it.  Then Maggie got to choose which food she wanted to try, and that card was put on the “first” square.

Molly drew the pineapple card.

Sarah then put one of the small pieces of celery on an empty plate in front of Maggie and told her to eat it.  If she ate the whole thing then she would get 5 small chips, and if she just tried it then she would get one chip.  We also set a minute on the timer to give a limit as to how long Maggie could drag the process out.

We were shocked when she ate the carrots and celery.  We have never got her to eat that much before.  We could tell she was not enjoying it, but she did not put up nearly the fight that I thought she would.  Pineapple was a bigger fight, but she was also getting a bit more full by then as well.

We are going to continue practising this, and introduce more new foods – Sarah suggested that we work on 5 at each session.  It will be interesting to see if this translates into her eating a better variety of food at meals.

Now this isn’t the full program – apparently it involves doing weigh-ins and charts of all of the food groups – but it is a relatively easy way to add in some food experimentation for some kids.  Definitely consult a professional if your child is having trouble keeping weight on, or has gag issues.  And I think it’s well-established that I am the furthest thing there is from a professional.

Let me know if you have done any programs like this in the past, or if you try this one!


  1. says

    Is cuddling food a thing? Beege had a pet orange for an entire winter. She liked it because it had a navel, just like her. (Don’t worry, I switched it when she wasn’t looking every time it started to feel a little soft.)

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