Compassionate treatment for children with Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID)

Compassionate treatment for children with Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID)

Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID) Treatment Program

If your child has Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID), we offer innovative care from a renowned treatment team that specializes in ARFID. This helps kids get back to healthy eating, proper nutrition and a full, active childhood.

Children’s Health℠ has one of the nation’s most comprehensive ARFID treatment programs. Our experts have helped many children overcome ARFID, and we start by helping you understand what’s causing your child’s extremely picky eating. Then we use proven treatments to help your child embrace new foods and put them on track to a happy, healthy future.  

Learn more about ARFID

Contact us

New Patient: 214-456-8899
Fax: 469-303-4095 
Ste P4300


Fax: 469-303-4095
Ste P4300

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Psych McGarrahan Office

World-renowned ARFID experts

Our center partners with UT Southwestern, one of the nation’s premier teaching hospitals and healthcare research centers. As part of our ARFID program, your child will be treated by top psychiatrists and psychologists who specialize in ARFID and other eating disorders. Our team is so renowned, other doctors and mental health professionals come to learn from us at our annual eating disorder symposium.

Compassionate treatment for your child

We offer a four-week ARFID treatment program for children ages 5 to 17. Children attend the program Monday to Friday for about the length of a school day. Each day, you’ll pack a mix of your child’s preferred foods and foods you want them to try. New foods are called “challenge” foods.

Over the course of four weeks, your child can benefit from:

No longer am I sick with worry when I watch him walk in front of me.
Mother of a patient
  • Individual and family therapy, to address behavior and eating habits, stressful or traumatic events, and to identify any other mental or physical issues. Our therapists use age-appropriate activities to connect with younger children. And we help you create a behavior plan to motivate your child to expand what they eat. Our goal is for you to feel comfortable managing your child’s eating at home.
  • Group therapy, to help children and teens overcome fears around food and learn coping skills to help them manage stressors. We have separate groups for younger children and teens.
  • School and homework support, where our certified teachers work with your child for two hours a day, to make sure your child keeps their schoolwork on track during treatment.
  • Occupational therapy, to learn more explicitly which textures, odors, temperatures and colors may trigger your child’s picky eating and gradually work with them to get better at trying new foods.
  •  Experiential therapy, to help kids connect to their bodies and their feelings through art, music and recreation therapy.
  • Meal therapy, to help your child gradually experience new foods, one bite at a time. We have the expertise to overcome spitting out, crying or extended waiting at mealtimes. We understand the anxiety that eating certain foods can cause your child.
  • Medication management, to help with conditions like anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression, self-injury or post-traumatic stress disorder. These conditions can contribute to ARFID.

As a parent, you’ll also receive a lot of helpful training and support from the Children’s Health team. For a few hours a day, you’ll attend:

  • Parent skills group, to teach you how to set limits and motivate your child. We’ll empower you to keep expanding what your child eats. We’ll help you feel confident that your child is getting what they need. And we’ll practice ways to stay calm and relaxed when you are helping your child.
  • Multifamily therapy, to help you connect with other families experiencing ARFID, so you can share tips, tricks and struggles.

Care for ARFID’s eating problems

Sometimes, parents think their child is being picky or stubborn when they actually have a physical problem that affects how they eat. We will do a full range of tests to make sure we understand what’s causing your child’s eating problems. If it turns out your child has a problem chewing, swallowing or digesting food, we have all the experts to treat those problems under one roof.

A state-of-the-art facility

We know that a pleasant environment can help people feel better and more relaxed. That’s why we’ve designed our facility to be bright, fun and inviting. Our facility includes outdoor spaces, recreational spaces and therapy rooms that look out onto our gardens. Your child can read, play games and listen to music in rooms that were designed to keep them comfortable and at ease.

Customized pediatric ARFID treatment and support

We are the only pediatric program in the country that has an ARFID program with a treatment track that’s separate from the hospital’s other eating disorder programs. We keep the number in the ARFID program to a small group of four to eight children. This means that children and families receive the care and attention they need to get on a better path in only four weeks.

We provide treatment and support for the whole family because we know that meals are an important time for families to share their experiences. Families develop bonds with other ARFID families that last beyond the program. And they leave with a new enthusiasm for their life within their own family.

Meet the Care Team