The relationship between food refusal and social skills in persons with intellectual disabilities

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BACKGROUND: Feeding problems are common among individuals with intellectual disabilities. The aim of the current study was to determine the relationship between food refusal and social skills in people with intellectual disability. METHOD: The Screening Tool of Feeding Problems (STEP) was administered to all residents of a large developmental centre. This screening tool identified 82 residents who exhibited food refusal, and 81 residents who did not exhibit food refusal. The Matson Evaluation of Social Skills in Persons with Severe Retardation (MESSIER) was administered to the 163 participants. RESULTS: People who exhibited food refusal displayed significantly more negative nonverbal and general negative social skills when compared to controls. Food refusal was prevalent across all ages, genders, and levels of intellectual disability. CONCLUSIONS: As social skill deficits are associated with deficits in feeding skills, social skills training should be considered as a major component of behavioural interventions targeting food refusal in people with intellectual disability.

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Journal of intellectual & developmental disability

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