Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
One of the defining features of mental retardation is a problem in adaptive functioning. An area of adaptive skills commonly deficient in this population is social functioning, often characterized as behaviors that provide individuals with the means to interact effectively and appropriately with others. Researchers in this area have generally focused on improving appropriate social behavior and/or decreasing behavioral excesses that interfere with social interactions. Few studies have examined the effects of improving social behavior on collateral behaviors. The current study examined the relationship between social behavior and feeding and mealtime problem behavior in individuals with mental retardation. Individuals across three clinical feeding groups (selectivity, food refusal related behavior problems, and nutrition related behavior problems) were compared across social behaviors as measured by the Matson Evaluation of Social Skills in Individuals with sEvere Retardation (MESSIER) and the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales (VABS). Statistically significant differences were only observed among comparisons between the Selectivity group and their matched controls, where greater levels of appropriate social skills and functioning among were associated with the control group. Conversely, individuals who exhibit behaviors associated with selectivity reportedly displayed fewer positive social behaviors. Results of a regression analysis indicate that elevated measures of a mood disturbance can be predictive of the presence of food refusal behavior. Implications of these data are discussed.
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Kuhn, David E., "The relationship between social behavior and mealtime behavior problems in individuals with severe and profound mental retardation" (2004). LSU Doctoral Dissertations. 207.