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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