Clinical Outcomes of Behavioral Treatments for Pica in Children with Developmental Disabilities

J Autism Dev Disord. 2015 Jul;45(7):2105-14. doi: 10.1007/s10803-015-2375-z.


Pica is a potentially deadly form of self-injurious behavior most frequently exhibited by individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities. Research indicates that pica can be decreased with behavioral interventions; however, the existing literature reflects treatment effects for small samples (n = 1-4) and the overall success of such treatments is not well-understood. This study quantified the overall effect size by examining treatment data from all patients seen for treatment of pica at an intensive day-treatment clinical setting (n = 11), irrespective of treatment success. Results demonstrate that behavioral interventions are highly effective treatments for pica, as determined by the large effect size for individual participants (i.e., NAP scores ≥ .70) and large overall treatment effect size (Cohen's d = 1.80).

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Behavior Therapy / methods*
  • Child
  • Developmental Disabilities / complications*
  • Developmental Disabilities / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pica / complications
  • Pica / psychology
  • Pica / therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult