Spoon distance fading with and without escape extinction as treatment for food refusal

Kristi D. Rivas, Cathleen C. Piazza, Meeta R. Patel, Melanie H. Bachmeyer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Little is known about the characteristics of meals that serve as motivating operations (MOs) for escape behavior. In the current investigation, we showed that the distance at which a therapist held a spoon from a child's lips served as an MO for escape behavior. Based on these results, we implemented spoon distance fading, compared fading with and without escape extinction (EE), and compared fading plus EE to EE alone. Initially, inappropriate mealtime behavior decreased during fading, but this effect was not maintained as fading progressed. Inappropriate mealtime behavior was lower initially when we combined fading and EE relative to EE alone, but acceptance increased more rapidly with EE than with fading plus EE. These results suggest that a number of mealtime characteristics might function as MOs for escape behavior and that analyses of MOs may be useful for developing treatments for food refusal.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)673-683
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of applied behavior analysis
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2010


  • escape extinction
  • fading
  • feeding disorder
  • food refusal
  • negative reinforcement
  • pediatric feeding disorders
  • stimulus fading

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy
  • Applied Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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