1. How do you teach a child to swallow pills?
Your child must first be ‘ready' - showing imitation skills, or a desire to learn to swallow the pills. A possible first step is to use a diet-approved version of ‘Tic-Tacs' as they are tiny, and easily swallowed. If unsuccessful at first it won't leave a bitter taste in their mouth. Positive encouragement at good attempts or success will help build confidence. Step Two might be GFCF chocolate ‘buttons', a little larger and a similar safety feature against bitterness. Third can be actual pills, the smaller the better of course. Go slowly as a setback could be long term.
For more tips, see:
Linkup Parents article: Helping the Medicine Go Down
2. What is the correct dosage for supplements such as B6 & Mg, DMG, Folic Acid, and Vitamin C for my child? Is it safe?
3. My child is currently on medications and I would like to try DMG, Vitamin B6, Mg and other nutritional supplements. Do I need to wean him off of the drugs before starting the supplements? How should I proceed?
Always consult a licensed healthcare professional with questions regarding prescription medications. For decades, parents have reported to ARI that supplements like B6, Magnesium, DMG, and others have reduced - and in some cases entirely eliminated the need for prescription medication – talk to your medical professional for more information.
4. What's the best way to get the supplements in? My child has gotten wise to us putting it in her food and won't take them – what do we do?
This is not uncommon. When children begin rejecting supplements hidden in food and drinks, perhaps a new approach is warranted. As children begin to make progress, they begin to show preferences and opinions much more frequently.
Some parents have found that their child is simply frustrated because a majority of their daily diet is being inundated with supplements that change the taste or texture. If you have tried hiding the supplements in a variety of different ways without success, it's probably time to approach it differently.
A child who refuses supplements hidden in food may need to be given supplements directly, either by teaching them to swallow pills, or putting the powdered supplements in a syringe with a little liquid. Using the principals of behavior analysis, you can offer your child a reward for taking supplements from a syringe. You can expect children to balk at having to take yucky tasting medicines, but persistence often pays off.
For a child who is especially resistant, but also very depleted in nutrients, some of the vitamins and minerals can be given by IV for short periods of time. You would have to ask your physician about this option. You can also check with your doctor to see if any of the supplements can be made into a transdermal formula that can be applied to the skin.
Other ideas include:
- For some parents, the tough love approach is the best way to get supplements in a child - the same way as you would approach medicine for diabetics or heart patients- meaning it's not optional. Your child's personality and your parenting style are individual, and you have to decide how important it is to you to ensure your child gets the supplements they need.
- You can create a social story for your child that gives step-by-step direction and prepares them for taking supplements, and shows them the reward for taking them.
- You can create a behavioral program and rewards for taking supplements.
Many autistic individuals have sleep problems. Night waking may be due to reflux of stomach acid into the esophagus. Melatonin has been very useful in helping many autistic individuals fall asleep. Other popular interventions include using 5-HTP and implementing a behavior modification program designed to induce sleep. Vigorous exercise will help a child sleep, and other sleep aids are a weighted blanket or secure-feeling mummy-type sleeping bag.