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Your Advice Requested: What's the Best Way to Get an Autistic Child to Take Medicine?

By September 23, 2006

When my son was younger, we tried nutritional supplements to help with his autistic symptoms. One of the highly recommended choices was a liquid form of vitamin B-6 -- a VERY smelly goop. We tried hiding it in everything, until our son finally stopped eating almost anything -- and then we gave up.

For some people, giving up isn't an option. The medication is a must. This mom would appreciate your suggestions and ideas:

My son is 12 years old and diagnosed with autism. He is also coping with overwhelming Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and anxiety. He has been prescribed medication to help with these issues, but he won't take it. He is so bright he practically sniffs it out!!! What are the choices or alternatives?
September 24, 2006 at 2:37 am
(1) Jock says:

I think that what needs to be determined is- why is he refusing to take his medication.

Is it merely the taste of the meds, the texture, the inability to swallow pills and capsules, or is it that he just doesn’t want to be medicated?

We too have had problems over the years geting our son to take medicines. In his case the problems were due to taste, inability to swallow, that sort of thing. Up until very recently he didn’t know he was actually taking meds at all.

Only two weeks ago, due to a serious infection, he had to take penicillin in capsule form. We felt that he needed to take it as it was but he couldn’t even swallow it. We all persevered and after a couple of stressful days he successfully swallowed a capsule.

He continued throughout the course of meds with no more problems. He now takes his nightly melatonin capsule without having to have it broken up into a cup of hot milk first.

If the problem is due to any of the physical properties, maybe a change in the meds or the way they are administered may help. If it is psychological, maybe some sort of psychriatric, or hypnotherapy treatment may be successful.

Good Luck I wish you success

September 24, 2006 at 7:36 pm
(2) Friend with Aspergers (high-functioning Autism) says:

I just wanted to encourage you all. I have Aspergers Syndrome and was diagnosed only a couple of years ago (I’m 22). It has been one of the hardest things in my life to deal with-all the emotions, feelings, anxiety, physical things (taking pills-I only started taking pills a few years ago and I couldn’t be happier). There are so many things going through our mind that we aren’t even sure what’s going on sometimes. I want to encourage your son as well. There is hope and life will get better. I have struggled for a very long time and am not yet through it but I can say that I have both good days and bad and very good days and really difficult days as well. Don’t lose hope, really. I see a counselor and it helps a lot. I also read the Bible (I’m a Christian) and the promises that God has for those who struggle, for those He loves. Did you know that He even experienced the same things we do/did. He was overcome with so much anxiety that He literally sweat blood. He was in so much pain and suffering, so He knows how we feel even when we think no one does. I don’t know what advice to give on treatment other than seeing a counselor but I can give you encouragement. I struggle with anxiety, sometimes so bad I can hardly get myself to do anything, but it does subside. It is hard, I know, but we will get through this. I know it. There is healing. I hope that you all figure out what he needs.

God Bless you!

September 25, 2006 at 3:58 am
(3) Norway Mom says:

Our son has atypical autism, and medication was a very big stress for us every time he got sick. The
first breakthrough was when he finally understood the concept of behaving to get a reward (age 5). A couple years later, it helped even more when when he understood and wanted the benefits of the medicine. For him, it’s easier to swallow a pill in a big spoon of yogurt instead of with water. I’ve also heard that it helps to suck on ice or popsicles before taking the medicine, since cold dulls the tastebuds. Good luck!

September 26, 2006 at 9:55 am
(4) tina says:

My son has autism, but he takes his medicince regiously, most of the time. When he doesn’t want it the dog is always around and I’ll say fine the dog can feel good, then he’ll take it. My son Knows it helps him, maybe if you explain to your child that it will make him feel better and give it a chance. Works with mine.

September 30, 2006 at 5:42 am
(5) janae says:

My son has PDD and OCD and takes 2 medications for it. One is a dissolving tablet, but the other is a traditional pill. I crush it up and mix it with a little juice – he takes it without too much trouble.

September 30, 2006 at 9:56 am
(6) Rhonda says:

My son is 12 years old with Autism/PDD. We have always had trouble with medication. He has to take a daily medication for hypertension for the last year, and we have found that crushing it in a bit of ice cream has worked well.
Good luck.

September 30, 2006 at 12:14 pm
(7) Christie M ~ California says:

My son is 5 and he does not take any meds on a regular basis- I hope to keep it that way.

Since your son is old enough to make some choices, try giving him some options. If the problem is physical, ďa spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down” has worked for me. I will crush the Tylenol and dissolved it in a spoonful of warm water and sugar- no problem.

My son has a hyper-sensitive gag reflex. If he does not like the taste, texture, or smell, he will vomit. I can usually just give him children’s liquid bubble gum flavored Motrin with no problem.

If the problem is more emotional, ask him to try the meds for a week or two. Both of you can make notes on how he feels, acts, etc. If there are only marginal improvements, agree to talk to his physician about discontinuing the meds.

September 30, 2006 at 3:16 pm
(8) Cathy Lopez says:

My son is 12, and has finally gotten to the point where I can just tell him that there is medicine in his soy milk to make him feel better, and he will drink it. We had a hard time until he reached that stage. Our best success was taking his prescriptions to a compounding pharmacist, who usually could flavor medicines to taste like what we wanted to mix it in. In my son’s case, we mixed it in chocolate soy milk. Sometimes he was still aware of it but he accepted it. They can sometimes also make the medicines into lollipops or gummy bears.

October 3, 2006 at 3:31 pm
(9) DeeDee says:

We have had success with mixing Kirkman’s Super Nu-Thera Liquid (which is very high in B vitamins and formulated for treating autism) with “Vruit” brand “Tropical Blend” flavored juice. The juice works well at hiding the strong flavor of the B-vitamins in the Super Nu-Thera because it is carrot, mango, papaya, pumpkin, pear, pineapple, and passion fruit juice mixture and is orange like the Super Nu-Thera, as well. Vruit can be found in health food supermarkets and stores. If you can’t find it, we have also used carrot juice mixtures off of the regular store shelves with good success, but Vruit is better for the child if you can find it.

Our doctor also gave us the suggestion for getting him to swallow pills of putting the pill in a tiny dab of applesauce or other baby food fruits and having the child swallow it with the fruit on it. He said he was able to get his 4-year old with autism swallowing pills that way. Good luck!

October 10, 2006 at 3:44 pm
(10) Kim says:

My son has Asperger’s. He is 7 years old. I put his in a spoonful of strawberry flavored applesauce.

November 4, 2006 at 6:13 am
(11) Tina says:

My expirience was just the opposite. My son is hypersensitive to taste and smell. He refused to take any form of liquid medicine and it was always a struggle to try to hide it in his food because he always found out. When he was older he started taking pills and we have not had a problem since. Now I request everything in pill form for him.

March 19, 2008 at 4:43 pm
(12) ADB says:

I am 15 years old and I have autism. I just leaRNED TO swallow my pill with pudding cups. you can take them with you and ptu the medicine in it its portable. this helped me a lot and the pill isn’t crushed plus it tastes good.use a lite pudding bcause you are not spose to have chocolate or cafeen in the medicine. good luck

April 17, 2008 at 8:24 pm
(13) Teacher says:

Thank you for your ideas…I have an autistic child in my classroom and am having a very difficult time giving him his medication. He doesn’t eat much at all and hates slimy textures…and won’t do the juice thing. I am going to try the icecream as well as the baby food, maybe whip cream……thanks for your help!!!
God Bless

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