The Chompions! Study
at Duke University
Feeling and Body Investigators (FBI) ARFID Division
Welcome to the Feeling and Body Investigator (FBI) intervention – ARFID Division! You and your child are well on your way to becoming trained as members of an elite squad of special forces – people who understand the wisdom of their body so expertly that there’s very little that can stand in their way. This is an intervention that is designed to be completed with both parents and children together. In fact, the more family members that participate, the better. If siblings are able to join the activities, that would be great. We will explain much more about the intervention during your first session, however here is a brief overview.
Children with Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID) have already been through a lot in their young lives. They may have had challenges with eating since they were infants or toddlers. They may be emotional sponges: feeling everything in their bodies and in the world around them very deeply and strongly. By the time they are five years old, they may have had over a thousand challenging mealtimes. They are very smart, perceptive kids. They may have developed a sense that other children can do some things more easily than they can. Many children with ARFID are anxious kids more generally and may struggle with comorbid diagnoses such as ADHD and/or an autism spectrum disorder.
The goal of FBI-ARFID is to help these children with sensory superpowers learn and trust in the wisdom, power and strength of their bodies. That is, as children with sensory superpowers, their bodies are particularly smart - wicked smart, in fact.
Given all the negative experiences with food that children with ARFID may have had thus far, FBI doesn’t start with food. We start with the body. Through the use of playful characters such as Gassy Gus, Betty the Butterfly, Harold the Hunger Pain, and Victor Vomit, we learn about a variety of body sensations and what they might tell us. We design body investigations to demonstrate to ourselves how smart the body is. We learn to decode the messages of the body and figure out whether it’s telling us that we are hungry, scared, grossed out, tired, hurt, peaceful, calm – over 50 different characters we will learn! We get trained to be on the lookout for sensations that accompany beauty and joy as well as peaceful quiet moments. We learn to respond to the messages of the body and see what happens.
Below are examples of session topics in Feeling and Body Investigators: ARFID intervention.
As the intervention progresses, we apply our skills and nonjudgmental awareness to sensations outside of the body including those that constitute food – things like tastes, sounds, smells, textures, and visual cues. Our goal is to bring joy to food and eating so that these children have fun and silly memories that can compete with all the negative experiences of their past.
At the end of this intervention, we hope to have helped to develop children that know themselves, trust themselves, and have proven to themselves that they can do anything – including approach and enjoy all kinds of truly delicious food.