How JustAnswer Works:
  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site.
    Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.
Ask Kym Tolson, LCSW, CSAC, NBCCH Your Ow...
Kym Tolson, LCSW, CSAC, NBCCH, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 251
Experience:  Over 15 years of experience as a substance abuse therapist. I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker
Type Your Mental Health Question Here...
Kym Tolson, LCSW, CSAC, NBCCH is online now
A new question is answered every 9 seconds

My son is a special needs, moderately retarded 14 yr. old,

This answer was rated:

My son is a special needs, moderately retarded 14 yr. old, who is a comfort eater. We are stumped as to how to encourage him to have good eating habits. His school is using techniques like making him walk around the gym with 20 lbs. on his back. (the amount he gained this yr.). He feels picked on and humiliated, as none of the other children had to do it. I feel this isn't right and is a form of harrasment. We are concerned about his weight too. Neither me or my husband are overweight, and we eat alot of home grown meals. Our son just eats too much and too often. What can we do?


Thank you for using I am so sorry to hear your son is going through this. I'm horrified to hear his school is trying to change his behavior in this way. Humiliating him in this way probably causes him to feel a lot of shame about himself. Comfort eaters, by definition, eat to ease negative emotions. Humiliation and shame are only going to full the behavior in my opinion.


I would suggest using positive techniques such as a reward chart for pounds lost. You may consider a healthy life management system such as weight watchers. This is a life change plan that helps people learn how to structure meals on a points system. The whole family could be involved in a system like this. I would also suggest having him see a therapist to talk about his emotional eating and to learn new life coping skills to effectively manage his emotions so he doesn't have to eat over them.


I hope this answer helps. Please let me know if you have further questions or if you need further clarification of this answer.


Take care,


Customer: replied 7 years ago.

Thanks for your quick reply,

We would like to know how to handle this situation with his school as it is ongoing. Remember he is special needs and is not reasoned with as with a normal child.

Hi again,

I would suggest speaking with the people responsible for coming up with this behavior modification plan and expressing your discontent with this method. To me special needs does not mean it is okay to humiliate a child no matter what issues he has. If they refuse to approach it differently you may want to seek a specialist/psychologist independent from the school to evaluate his particular situation and ask them to write a report or an IEP outlining the most effective way to modify this behavior at home and at school. I suggest presenting the plan to the school and requesting that the specialist/psychologist contact the school and request a healthier approach.


I hope those suggestions help. Please let me know if you have further questions.


All the best with this situation,


Kym Tolson, LCSW, CSAC, NBCCH and other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you