ARFID PSYCHOLOGICAL SUPPORT FOR CHILDREN AND FAMILIES
A service for children and families with restricted feeding and eating or an ARFID diagnosis.
What is ARFID
Avoidant and Restricted Intake Disorder (ARFID) is a relatively new eating disorder and was previously called ‘selective eating’. It is classified as an eating or feeding disturbance that leads to a persistent failure to meet appropriate nutritional and/or energy needs and is to be associated with one (or more) of four criteria including significant weight loss (or failure to achieve expected weight gain or faltering growth in children), significant nutritional deficiency, dependence on enteral feeding or oral nutritional supplements, or marked interference with psychosocial functioning.
Unlike other eating disorder diagnoses (such as anorexia or bulimia) people with ARFID do not typically worry as much (if at all) about how much they weigh or how they look.
A multi-disciplinary team needs to be involved in formally diagnosing ARFID, however, we do not need this formal diagnosis to provide support in this area should you child have significantly restricted feeding.
Common Symptoms of ARFID
Avoiding particular types of food such as foods of a certain texture, smell, colour or shape.
Anxiety or disgust at new foods.
Being unwilling to try new food.
Fear of choking or vomiting.
Taking a long time over mealtimes.
Avoiding eating in social scenarios.
Displaying a lack of interest in food.
Only eating certain brands of food.
Sudden refusal to eat certain foods.
Difficulties maintaining a healthy weight.
Treatment and Psychological Support
It is important that ARFID or severely restricted eating and feeding is treated by a team of healthcare professionals, and it is important that nutrition and diet is being managed by a GP, paediatrician or dietician as we, as a psychological service, cannot provide this dietary support. In addition, it will also be important to have any physical concerns with swallowing or the physical act of eating assessed by a speech and language therapist experienced in assessing dysphagia. If you have these concerns, we can direct you to a private colleague to discuss this further.
We provide psychological support for ARFID and severely restricted eating and feeding in a number of ways to both the child or young person and their family. The support offered will be tailored to the difficulties being presented but might include:
-Education and suggested strategies for parents with review appointments to monitor this over time.
-Individual support for the child and young person including a cognitive behavioural approach and/or an exposure programme.
-Liaison, discussion and recommendations to other people working with the child such as schools.