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Living with Autism

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October 18, 2011

Autism and Managing Constipation

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Gastrointestinal Issues and Autism: What to Do?

I don’t care what anyone says, there is something suspicious about the large amount of autistic children and adults who suffer from constipation and fecal impaction. Yep, I know, this is not a glamorous subject. Clearly, not the cute story of Chopin Playing or mathematical savants shown as the popular face of autism. 

Nonetheless, it’s a reality many raising severely-autistic children face. So, what’s the solution? How do we help these suffering autistics?

Over the years there have been many theories as to why some autistics are prone to constipation. Some experts say it’s because many autistics tend not to drink enough fluids. Others say it’s due to a lack of fiber. Still others insist it’s rooted in behavioral issues like holding stool and urine. 

Whatever the etiology, it’s clear we need to find relief for autistics suffering from constipation. Why? Many autistics, such as my son, are behaviorally fragile, which means anything that causes the slightest discomfort, including constipation, is sure to increase meltdowns, self-injurious and other aberrant behaviors. Thus, antidotes and remedies for any condition that thwarts our autistic child’s physical and emotional health are needed.

One of the most effective treatments I use for my autistic son during bouts of constipation is homemade purees. It starts with a blender. Pureed foods are easier to digest. Moreover, they allow you to give your child foods he/she needs that he/she may not otherwise be willing to eat in solid form. For example, let’s say your child needs protein and iron, but you can’t get them to chew and swallow pieces of chicken or steak. They may— if you puree these foods into a tasty, thick puree. Here is a favorite recipe I’ve used that has helped my autistic son during times of constipation and extra nutrition:

Mix in blender:

½ cup Virgin Coconut Oil, ¼ cup kidney beans, 1 egg yolk, ¼ cup minced walnuts, ¼ cup flax seeds, ¾ cup whole milk organic yogurt, ¼ cup minced spinach, ¼ cup minced Alaskan salmon, ½ cup organic frozen or fresh blueberries, 1 scoop Garden of Life Raw Meal, 1-2 medium avocados, 1/2 cup pineapple chunks, ¼ cup lecithin granules. Blend. Add Organic Carrot, Pineapple or Aloe Vera juice, as needed for desired thickness. (I’ve also added Stevia and powdered green tea, depending on my son’s acute health needs or gustatory preference for the day, or, well, moment). Feel free to adjust amount or ingredients as per your child’s individual preference and needs. Check with your doctor if you have any concerns about foods that may be contraindicated for your autistic child.

Purees, by the way, are often great for giving hard to swallow meds. Soft texture helps meds go down much easier than if you tried giving pills with solid foods. Purees are also much better than just giving, let’s say, applesauce or pudding, which are greatly lacking in vitamins and ample nutrition.

Hope this helps someone!

Kim Oakley, Mother of severely-autistic young adult son

3 comments:

Amy said...

Kim, I love your blog! I can relate to so much of what you say, even though my son is much younger. He is severely autistic as well with very limited speech. He is also self-injurious and aggressive. We are having a hard time figuring out what is causing these behaviors at this time. Over the summer it was awful. He had a sinus infection that we only were able to determine through behaviors and an MRI scan. In the meantime he was simply uncontrollable. Now, we are thinking he might be having migraines or it could be the fact that he is getting some adult teeth in. We try to alleviate his percieved pain(we assume so anyway), have been to the hospital ER, have seen dentists, but no one has been able to find anything. It is just so frustrating! Not sure why I am telling you all of this. I think when you mentioned "behaviorally fragile" and the slightest pain causing meltdowns...I just instantly connected. Thank you so much!

Kim Oakley said...

Hi Amy, it's a mixed blessing to meet others who understand 'behaviorally fragile.' I started using that term years ago because it aptly described autistics like our children. Oh, yes, sinus infections. Been there. It is awful! My son tries to punche his nose the entire time until the infection clears. ugh. I let him take 5-7 baths a day when this has happened. The water helps calm him and clears cogestion. Hope this winter we don't face this again as is usually ends up with a trip to ER. Be strong and courageous. You sound like a wonderful mother! You aren't alone.

Anonymous said...

Thank you. My BIL tried the puree for my SIL (she has early onset FTD.)
It worked very well and may at least for a while hold off the need for a feeding tube.

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