SPACE – ARFID to help manage the needs of Picky Eaters
Many children are picky eaters. This is part of normal development and is common around ages 2-3 years. In most cases, by the time the child is 6-7 years old, they naturally begin to expand their diet and eat a greater variety of foods. But sometimes this doesn’t happen, and children remain very picky and over time become even pickier, eliminating additional foods from their diet. If your child is a picky eater, SPACE-ARFID treatment can help you manage picky eating at home.
SPACE-ARFID is a parent-based treatment for children with extreme picky eating, or ARFID (Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder). In ARFID, restricted eating is not driven by fear of gaining weight or distorted body image. If this is the case, a different eating disorder should be considered such as anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa.
In many cases, ARFID can have serious medical consequences because the body is denied essential nutrients it needs to function normally. This can lead to problems like anemia, feeling tired, difficulty concentrating, irritability, constipation, abdominal pain, cold intolerance, sleep problems, electrolyte imbalances, impaired immune functioning and more. Therefore, it is important to consult with your pediatrician if you suspect your child has ARFID.
Even when a child’s weight and medical condition are not compromised, ARFID can lead to meaningful interference in daily functioning. For example, a child with ARFID may limit their social life to avoid the distress of dealing with food in public and in many families, the ARFID is a constant source of conflict between family members and can lead to avoidance of family activities, trips and vacations.
Can you recognize yourself and your family in this? Is your family constantly making adjustments to menus, cancelling social or restaurant visits because your child’s favourite food is not available, or perhaps you have had enough of having to prepare various meals just to satisfy your child’s pickiness?
SPACE-ARFID aims to treat children and adolescents with ARFID. Although children do not have to attend treatment sessions – they are the patients! When SPACE-ARFID treatment is successful children feel less distressed and function better in food-related situations.
Usually, parents (and other caregivers) participate in SPACE-ARFID treatment sessions. In most cases, the child or adolescent does not need to attend the treatment sessions. Sometimes, it is helpful to involve the child in the treatment process.
The goal of SPACE-ARFID is to increase the child’s flexibility around food and improve their adjustment to food-related situations. Parents who participate in SPACE-ARFID will learn specific skills and tools to help their children achieve these goals and function better around food. The treatment focuses on changes that parents can make to their own behaviour; they do not need to make their children change.
The three main changes that parents learn to make in SPACE-ARFID treatment are to respond more supportively to their child, to reduce food-related stress, and to reduce the accommodations they have been making to the child’s symptoms.
Although most parts of the SPACE-ARFID training are facilitated privately, some sessions might be combined with other families to develop a support network.
The fee includes access to scheduled Zoom sessions. Additional content and assignment is provided in the learning management system.
The individual training functions as psycho-education. Each session is tailored towards the specific needs of your family. Parents attend and learn how to incorporate the major SPACE-ARFID concepts within their homes. Active participation from parents is required, using worksheets and implementation & reflection assignments. In addition, parents participate in one or two problem-solve modules. Individual training includes up to 12 Meetings with mandatory attendance. IMPORTANT: An intake on Zoom prior to starting the individual training is required.
and Greater Saskatchewan
In general, STG Health Services can provide services through video conferencing anywhere in Saskatchewan, as long as a broadband highspeed Internet connection is available.