Meeting the nutritional needs of children with disabilities and their families

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Secrist-Mertz, Christine
Major Professor
Mary Jane Brotherson
Linda Enders
Committee Member
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Human Development and Family Studies

The Department of Human Development and Family Studies focuses on the interactions among individuals, families, and their resources and environments throughout their lifespans. It consists of three majors: Child, Adult, and Family Services (preparing students to work for agencies serving children, youth, adults, and families); Family Finance, Housing, and Policy (preparing students for work as financial counselors, insurance agents, loan-officers, lobbyists, policy experts, etc); and Early Childhood Education (preparing students to teach and work with young children and their families).


The Department of Human Development and Family Studies was formed in 1991 from the merger of the Department of Family Environment and the Department of Child Development.

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Related Units

  • College of Human Sciences (parent college)
  • Department of Child Development (predecessor)
  • Department of Family Environment (predecessor)

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Children with disabilities need adequate nutritional intake to survive and thrive. Many children are at risk and in need of nutritional intervention. This dissertation contains two studies which examined nutritional intervention services for children with disabilities and their families. The first study evaluated the outcomes of thirty-five children and families who received nutritional intervention services. An integrated model of feeding associated with disabilities was developed to examine the findings. Children and families significantly benefited from these services. The second study used qualitative research methods to study families who had made or were in the process of making the decision to use a feeding tube to meet the nutritional needs of their child with disabilities. Data were gathered over a two year period through interviews with eight families. Descriptive themes and issues emerged from the data that led to a greater understanding of what families face in making this decision for their child. Both of these studies can help families and professionals work in partnership before a child becomes severely malnourished or medically compromised as a result of inadequate nutrition.

Sun Jan 01 00:00:00 UTC 1995