Functional analysis and treatment of covert food stealing in an outpatient setting.

Covert food stealing is a serious problem behavior that can pose health risks to the individual and can be extremely disruptive for caregivers. Previous research on food stealing has been primarily conducted with individuals with Prader-Willi syndrome or intellectual disability in intensive residential settings, and this research has not demonstrated maintenance of treatment effects on food stealing in the natural environment. We conducted a functional analysis of food stealing and determined that food stealing was a covert behavior that was not maintained by socially mediated variables. We used discrimination training to establish programmed stimuli that signaled which foods should (or should not) be consumed in conjunction with parental descriptive feedback contingent on both correct and incorrect consumption. The treatment package effectively decreased food stealing in a 6-year-old child of typical development. The caregiver implemented the functional analysis and treatment and rated procedures and outcomes as high in social validity. According to caregiver report, treatment effects generalized to the home and maintained 8 weeks after in-clinic training sessions. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)