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How To Get Autistic Child To Take Medicine

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What Is The Outlook For People With Autism Spectrum Disorder

How to Teach a Child with Autism to Take Medicine

In many cases, the symptoms of ASD become less pronounced as a child gets older. Parents of children with ASD may need to be flexible and ready to adjust treatment as needed for their child.

People with ASD may go on to live typical lives, but there is often need for continued services and support as they age. The needs depend on the severity of the symptoms. For most, it’s a lifelong condition that may require ongoing supports.

A note from Cleveland Clinic

Through research, there has been much that has been learned about autism spectrum disorder over the past 20 years. There is ongoing active research on the causes of ASD, early detection and diagnosis, prevention and treatments.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 12/29/2020.


Helping Your Child To Take Liquid Medicine

Try mixing the drug with food or a drink

This is the most common strategy to help your child take yucky medicine. If you settle on this method and it proves to be effective, you need to do it right. Seeking advice on the types of foods that you can mix the medicine with can play a critical role because certain foods may make the medicine ineffective. You can call your pharmacist and ask for advice on the foods that you can mix the medicine with.

Another thing that you need to understand is how to make the mixture tasty. When you turn the medication into a odd tasting cocktail of flavours, you will be defeating the purpose and only making the situation worse! Most brands of childrens medicines will have a cherry/ strawberry or bubblegum flavor.

This means, for instance, you can mix the drug with either ice cream or yogurt. The flavour profile of the medication and the food you are mixing it with need to be a good fit. Also think about the proportions you are mixing. By getting a good mix, you will not only make the medicine tasty, you will be giving your concoction the best chance of success. Think of yourself as the gourmet of medication/ food mixing!!

Most importantly, you need to make sure that your child takes the entire dose of the mixture if you want the medication to be effective. So make it yummy in some way! Be creative!

Get the right flavor of medicine

Coat the tongue beforehand

Numbing the medicine with ice or chilling it

Aim wisely

How Does Autism Affect Kids

Autistic children may not reach the same developmental milestones as their peers, or they may demonstrate the loss of previously developed social or language skills.

For instance, a 2-year-old without autism may show interest in simple games of make-believe. A 4-year-old without autism may enjoy engaging in activities with other children. An autistic child may have trouble interacting with others or dislike it altogether.

Autistic children may also engage in repetitive behaviors, have difficulty sleeping, or compulsively eat nonfood items. They may find it hard to thrive without a structured environment or consistent routine.

If your child is autistic, you may have to work closely with their teachers to ensure they succeed in the classroom.

Many resources are available to help autistic children as well as their loved ones. Local support groups can be found through the national nonprofit The Autism Society of America.

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What Causes Autism Spectrum Disorder

There is no clear-cut cause of ASD. Some causes that are supported by research include genetic and some environmental factors. Specific genetic causes can only be identified in 10% to 20% of cases. These cases include specific genetic syndromes associated with ASD and rare changes in the genetic code.

Risk factors include older parental age, low birth weight, prematurity and maternal use of valproic acid or thalidomide during pregnancy, among others. This field of study is an active one for reasearch.

Liquid Medicines: How To Measure The Dose

How to Get Your Child to Take Medicine {Tricks and Tips}
  • Use the oral dosing syringe that comes with the medicine. This device gives the most accurate dosing.
  • If you don’t have a med syringe, buy one at a pharmacy.
  • Dosing with syringe is more accurate than a measuring cup or teaspoon.
  • Household spoons vary in the volume they hold.
  • Risk: Using household spoons causes thousands of cases of poisoning each year.

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If Your Child Does Not Cooperate: More Techniques For Giving Liquid Medicine

  • Caution: Never use this technique if the medicine is not needed.
  • If your child will not cooperate, you will often need 2 adults.
  • One adult will hold the child sitting on their lap. Their hands will hold the child’s hands and head to keep from moving.
  • The other adult will give the medicine using the technique below:
  • You must have a medication syringe. You can get one at a pharmacy without a prescription.
  • Use one hand to hold the syringe. Use the other to open your child’s mouth.
  • Open your child’s mouth by pushing down on the chin. You can also run your finger inside the cheek and push down on the lower jaw.
  • Insert the syringe between the teeth. Drip the medicine onto the back of the tongue.
  • Keep the mouth closed until your child swallows. Gravity can help if you have your child in an upright position. Caution: Swallowing cannot occur if the head is bent backward.
  • Afterward, say: “I’m sorry we had to hold you. If you help next time, we won’t have to.”
  • Give your child a hug. Also, use other positive rewards .

Delays In Language Development

age of 1 year , a child should be able to say one to three single words and try to copy words that other people say.

The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders notes that autistic children may have trouble developing language skills and understanding what other people say. According to March of Dimes, about 40% of autistic children do not speak at all.

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Dealing With Challenging Behavior

If your child engages in challenging behavior during this time, avoid attempting to persuade or force your child to take the medication. Its easy to accidentally reinforce refusal by doing this. Instead, walk away from your child a short distance or turn your back to him, but keep the expectation in place. If you try one strategy several and it doesnt work, try a different one or try combining 2 or more of these ideas. If your child persists in refusing, work with a BCBA to help you problem solve.

Did you find these tips helpful? Download the infographic to share this information with others!

Can A Child Be Slightly Autistic


A child could have mild symptoms of autism, but parents and guardians should still take proactive steps to seek a diagnosis.

When a child has autism spectrum disorder , caregivers can work with professionals to develop appropriate strategies in response. These strategies help children thrive in their environment through appropriate accommodations, therapy, and parent training.

While some children with autism may rarely encounter challenges related to their disorder, others may find that negative experiences increase as they get older. This can lead to unwanted stress, potentially up to the point of a crisis event. In extreme cases, a child could lose opportunities to advance in school or other life areas.

Understanding a childs needs is important. Individuals in their life should never brush away observations that a child might have a behavior disorder. Instead, they can educate themselves on the signs of ASD and look into the next best actions to take.

Also Check: Is Level 2 Autism High Functioning

Use The Power Of Distraction

In the time leading up to taking medicine, you can help your child to take part in an activity or game that they really enjoy. About halfway through this, tell your child they need to take medicine. This could become a part of your regular medicine taking routine if it works well, so keep this in mind when choosing the activity!

The motivation they will have to continue the enjoyable activity will hopefully encourage your child to take the medicine faster or with less fuss.

What Are The Signs Of Asd In Babies

Diagnosing ASD is challenging. One reason for this is that the condition presents differently in all individuals.

Babies can reach developmental milestones at slightly different ages, even when they do not have any health conditions. However, some developmental differences indicate that a baby may be autistic. These include:

Recommended Reading: Is Level 2 Autism High Functioning

Antidepressant And Anxiety Medications

Common challenges for children with autism include persistent anxiety or obsessive behaviors. These behaviors, such as avoiding or running away from new or unknown situations, separation anxiety, or compulsive checking or washing behaviors, cause big problems in day-to-day life. Anxiety is often associated with strict black-and-white thinking, a combination that can be a trigger for explosive behaviors. Children with autism are also at risk for developing depression, another family of symptoms that sometimes become severe enough to require medication.

For these symptoms, the most commonly prescribed medications for children are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors , such as sertraline or fluoxetine . Some of these medications have been studied and approved for use with children, although not specifically for autism. This group of medications may help with mood, anxiety, or obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors. As with most mental health medications, side effects should be closely monitored.

How To Get Your Child To Take Medicine

My autistic child wont take medicine! What should I do ...

When you notice that your child only keeps medicine in his or her mouth and waits for the right moment to spit it out, then you have to come up with strategies that make the child take medication. The worst you can do is to force the medicine into the childs mouth: Chances are that the child will gradually develop a negative attitude towards the medicine or end up vomiting every time you administer the drug. Worst still, this would probably be close to child abuse in many countries! So, clearly simply forcing your child to take medicine isnt the way to go!

The most important thing is to remain calm and work through the problem systematically.

Here are some of the tricks and tips you can use should you discover that your autistic child refuses to take medicine.

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What Is The Difference Between Autism And Autism Spectrum Disorder

The term autism was changed to autism spectrum disorder in 2013 by the American Psychiatric Association. ASD is now an umbrella term that covers the following conditions:

  • Autistic disorder.
  • Pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified .
  • Asperger syndrome.

People with ASD have trouble with social interactions and with interpreting and using non-verbal and verbal communication in social contexts. Individuals with ASD may also have the following difficulties:

  • Inflexible interests.
  • Insistence on sameness in environment or routine.
  • Repetitive motor and sensory behaviors, like flapping arms or rocking.
  • Increased or decreased reactions to sensory stimuli.

How well someone with ASD can function in day-to-day life depends on the severity of their symptoms. Given that autism varies widely in severity and everyday impairment, the symptoms of some people arent always easily recognized.

Iii Developing A Schedule And Being Consistent

Another discovery about children with autism indicates that they like consistency and you need to have a plan on how you engage your child. For instance, you can have a schedule on when to give your child food or even medicine, and once they adapt to this, you are less likely to have trouble with them.

Here at Best Case Parenting we have tried to help with this process by writing a variety of articles to support parents of autistic children. Including some talking about what to do if your autistic child doesnt want to go to school or poop in the toilet! We sincerely hope it helps!

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Shaping The Acceptance Of Medication

Shaping is an intervention that often works well for children who dont respond well to being pushed or pressured to complete a task. This technique breaks a task down into small steps and reinforcing each one along the way. This process requires a lot of time and patience on your part, but often results in success without a lot of drama.

Consider the steps required for taking medication:

  • Accepting the medication in view
  • Touching the medication, cup or syringe with a finger
  • Holding the medication, cup or syringe
  • Touching the medication, cup or syringe to the lips
  • Putting the tongue to the medication, cup or syringe
  • Putting the medication in the mouth
  • Swallowing the medication
  • Start by reinforcing just the first step and then subsequent steps as your child becomes successful. This is a slow process and best not to tackle when your child is actually in need of medication. Go through this process with water colored the same color as the medication you may want him to take some day. Practicing before medication becomes necessary helps alleviate some of the stress when it is time to give your child medication.

    For more details on how to use shaping, read our post: Shaping and Your Child with Autism.

    Complementary And Alternative Medicine Treatments

    AUTISTIC TODDLER: How To Get Fussy Kids To Take Syringes

    To relieve the symptoms of ASD, some parents and healthcare professionals use treatments that are outside of what is typically recommended by pediatricians. These treatments are known as complementary and alternative medicine treatments. CAM treatments refer to products or services that are used in addition to or instead of traditional medicine. They might include special diets, dietary supplementsexternal icon, chelation , biologicals , or mind-body medicine .

    Many of these treatments have not been studied for effectiveness moreover, a review of studies on chelation found some evidence of harm and no evidence to indicate it is effective in treating children with ASD . Current research shows that as many as one-third of parents of children with ASD may have tried CAM treatments, and up to 10% may be using a potentially dangerous treatment . Before starting such a treatment, talk to your childs doctor.

    To learn more about CAM therapies for ASD, go to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicines Autismexternal icon webpage. The FDA has information about potentially dangerous treatments hereexternal icon.

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    Why Is Autism Awareness Important

    April 2 is World Autism Awareness Day. April has also become known as Autism Awareness Month in the United States. However, many community advocates have rightly called for the need to increase awareness about ASD year-round, and not just during 30 select days.

    The Autism Society of America and other advocates have even proposed that April be designated Autism Acceptance Month instead.

    Autism acceptance requires empathy and an understanding that ASD is different for everyone.

    Certain therapies and approaches can work for some people but not others. Parents and caregivers can also have differing opinions on the best way to advocate for an autistic child.

    Special Steps With Pills

    Ideally, the techniques above will allow your child to become a pill swallowing expert. If not, there are a few strategies you can try.

    One is to have the child swallow a favorite liquid along with the pill. recommend these three strategies.

    • Two-gulp method: Place the pill on the tongue. Take one gulp of liquid and swallow it without swallowing the pill. Then, take a second gulp of liquid right away, swallowing the pill and the water together.
    • Straw technique: Place the pill far back on the tongue. Then have your child drink the liquid through a straw, quickly. If the child is focused on swallowing their favorite liquid, rather than thinking about the pill, the pill will likely go down their throat.
    • Pop bottle method: Place the pill anywhere in the mouth. Have the child seal their lips and mouth over an open drink bottle, and maintain contact between the bottle and lips while taking a big gulp of the drink. This should allow the child to easily swallow both the liquid and the pill.

    Another technique is to use food as a method of concealing the pill. Some children who struggle to swallow pills have no problem gulping them down as part of a spoonful of yogurt, applesauce, or peanut butter.

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    Coping With Language And Communication Problems

  • 1Know that communication problems are typical of autism. Autistic children may not develop speech in the same manner or time frame as their peers do. They might engage in unusual speech patterns, including echolalia the repetition of words or sentences spoken by others, sometimes in the same tone or accent.XResearch sourceXResearch source In addition, autistic people may have some of the following language issues:
  • Confusion of pronouns. Autistic people may confuse I and you regularly, for example. This is part of the language learning process, so don’t worry.
  • Literal thinking. Autistic people may not understand figures of speech, jokes, and teasing.
  • Receptive language difficulties. Even if a child has a vast knowledge of vocabulary and syntax, they may not process spoken words well. You may need to repeat yourself or write things down.
  • Frustration. These difficulties can be very frustrating!
  • 2Work with your childs abilities. The best approach to language and communication issues depends upon your childs ability levels. If your child cannot speak at all, for example, its best to start with basic signs even just teaching your child to point at what they want. If, on the other hand, your child speaks in words and phrases, you can work on teaching simple sentences.
  • AAC can help a child communicate in words, even if they can’t speak.
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