Graduation Date

Spring 5-4-2019

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Medical Sciences Interdepartmental Area

First Advisor

Dr. Kathryn Peterson


Repetitive and restricted response patterns are a core symptom of autism spectrum disorder, and resistance to change is a behavioral subcategory of these symptoms. Food selectivity, consumption of a limited variety of foods and liquids or rigidity during mealtime routines, is a common change-resistant behavior of children with autism that may increase the child’s risk for severe health problems such as obesity and additional learning and behavior problems (Freedman, Dietz, Srinivasan, & Berenson, 1999). Unexpected changes in routines or in the environment can cause behavioral outbursts that are disruptive or potentially dangerous to the child, caregiver, or property and increase caregiver stress. In the current investigation, we used a matching law conceptualization to treat the change-resistant feeding behavior of seven children diagnosed with autism and avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder. We increased consumption of healthy target foods and assessed whether the treatment generalized to nontargeted foods.