Children with autism have a higher rate of bowel issues than typical children. Every conference I’ve attended always has at least one lecture on poop or the lack thereof. One thing that Logan struggled with for YEARS was constipation. As I talk to more parents with newly diagnosed children, I find that this is fairly common in children with autism. More often that not, I am asked the question about what worked for us. Imagine my surprise when Dr. Buckley spoke of this very issue at a recent conference.
One thing that I learned really early from the late Dr. Bradstreet was that Logan needed to drink LOTS and LOTS of water. If you’re body is dehydrated then it will draw the water out of your intestines first. If they have no water then waste can not move through them. Then you get constipated. The waste just builds up and up. Since we now live in a desert, it’s extra important that Logan stay hydrated. Since he’s the size of an adult male now, we make him drink between a half to a gallon of water per day. This did not happen overnight. We started with getting him to drink one glass per day then gradually increased it. I really believe it makes him feel better so now he drinks it with minimal complaint. It’s not his favorite but he drinks it. You could try flavoring the water with fruit if you think it would work for your child. Logan was not a fan.
You can also go poo and still be constipated. If you have an impaction then the waste will squirt around it and get through. (Sorry to be so graphic! I really couldn’t think of any other way to describe that.)
If the child has a large distended stomach then something is wrong. We use to call Logan “Baby Buddah”. It was a sign that his waste was growing in his intestines. Not a good sign either. Toe walking is also a sure fire sign. Logan walked on his tip toes until about age 11. Can you imagine how tight his calf muscles were? That was one of the major things that he worked on in physical therapy. Because he walked so long on his tip toes, his calf muscles never extended and stretched. Crazy how one thing can lead to another!
How To Relieve Constipation In Children With Autism
- WATER, WATER, WATER!!!!!! The drink of choice must be water. A great way to tell if you are hydrated enough is to look at the color of your urine. If it is light yellow or clear then you are getting enough water.
- high doses of Vitamin C– Vitamin C is a water soluble vitamin meaning that your body will excrete in your urine what is doesn’t need. Ultimately, we had to keep giving Vitamin C until Logan got the diarrhea then back down a dose. He ended up needing a large amount of Vitamin C.
- fiber- We added some substantial fibrous foods to Logan’s diet, like apples, green leafy veggies, etc. Unfortunately , we also had to add a fiber supplement as he had a lot of cleaning out to do.
- George’s Aloe Juice– This was Dr. Buckley’s number one suggestion. I must say that I did not even know they made aloe juice. Upon further research though, we could have added this instead of the fiber supplement and got the same effect. Good to know.
- glycerin suppositories
- milk of magnesia
- apple juice or prune juice
- epsom salt cream or bath – magnesium affects so many systems in our bodies. It’s important to keep this mineral up to levels. We do this with epsom salt baths a few times a week or in a pinch , we use the cream.
- probiotics – My favorite are the Probio 5 by Plexus
- essential oils
- exercise and movement yoga – both will help keep the bowels active. I learned this when my mom had surgery to remove parts of her intestines. The hospital insisted she get up several times a day to walk to “wake up ” the bowels.
- chiropractor – can adjust your body to help the brain send the right signals to the intestines that it’s time to evacuate.
There are many prescription methods out there as well. Only your doctor can determine if that is what you need to do so I suggest asking about them if you have severe constipation or blockage. Sometimes you can’t go the natural route safely. Do whatever works for your child and don’t feel one bit guilty about it.
As usual,here is my disclaimer: I am not a doctor nor do I play one on this blog. I am merely telling you what worked for my child in the hope that it helps you with your child. Contact a doctor before starting any new treatment plan.