5 Strategies to Manage Constipation in Autistic Children
After many years of seeing children on the spectrum in our office, several medical challenges have led us to create strategic interventions for the most prevalent ones. A very common problem among autistic children is constipation. In this blog we will address this condition. We will cover five strategies that can improve the lives of children with constipation.
Before getting into some strategies, we want to emphasize the importance of addressing constipation. Medical studies have shown that constipation can lead to decreased flora concentration in the intestines. Less flora means the intestines become more susceptible to infection. Healthy flora levels also act as a stool softener. This is one reason why we recommend probiotics for anyone suffering from constipation. Constipation can lead to a variety of medical complications. Making sure your child has regular bowel movements is very important for optimal health and well being.
Five Strategies To Support Regularity
1. Eat More Fiber Rich Foods
Have you thought about what is typically offered on a children's menu at a restaurant? Chicken fingers, french fries, hamburgers, pizza and the list goes on. Fiber doesn't make the cut and that can present some serious health issues down the road. Think about what you are feeding your child and make sure that fiber makes it into what you offer for snacks and meals. Here are some of the best fiber sources with a few ideas on how to serve them:
- whole-grain breads and cereals
- berries (in smoothies or frozen too!)
- green peas (in soups, frozen, in their pods)
- legumes (dried beans, split peas, lentils, etc.)
- almonds (almond butter, trail mix etc.)
- any kind of fruit or vegetable preferably with skin on if edible
2. Drink More Water and Healthy Fluids
- We put lemons, limes, strawberries, fresh mint and other tasty fruits and herbs in our water
- bubbly water with a twist of flavoring tastes great too
3. Encourage Your Child To Use the Bathroom When He or She Feels the Urge to Go
- Make sure you give your child plenty of opportunities to use the restroom
- Ask your child to take time out during school hours to go to the bathroom especially early in the morning
- When you travel, offer bathroom breaks regularly
4. Give Your Child Regular Exercise and Include Squatting When Possible
- My own experience of pulling weeds from my garden and planting demonstrates how effective squatting is for promoting bowel movements.
- Simple squatting activities like picking up toys on the floor, sidewalk chalk and other activities can help your child become more regular.
5. Natural Remedies Like Aloe Vera, Probiotics and Magnesium
In a double-blind, randomized, controlled trial of 28 healthy adults, aloe vera, celandine (herbal remedy), and psyllium (form of fiber) was demonstrated to improve a range of constipation indicators (bowel movement frequency, consistency of stools, and laxative dependence) in a 28-day double-blind trial.
We offer a "Get Things Moving Kit" with aloe vera water, fiber, probiotics, magnesium and a bowel movement promoting essential oil including fennel, ginger, lemongrass, and other herbs for a diffuser. If you are not local to our office, the aloe vera water can be found at your local health food store. The essential oil is available in our office or you can order the oil from Young Living.