I’ve decided to write this post because I know we cannot be the only ones experiencing compliance issues with taking supplements. Most parents find our ASD kids need supplements and medications to for health reasons.
This situation becomes immensely problematic with children who cannot swallow pills. It is further complicated in children prone to gagging when taking supplements or medications.
Personally we have had a set back with supplement compliance just this year. The teen years are often complex even in children not on the spectrum. The change in hormones alone is plenty without also tossing in autism.
In our case my son decided to stop taking all his supplements and medications. I underestimated him and I assumed he was still taking them. I found out later on that he was not. I was upset of course that he didn’t feel he could tell me he felt his supplements were causing symptoms. However, I fully recognize that part of being a teen boy is you don’t always tell your parents things.
So I could not really blame the kid and he was honest with me when we discussed why he did this. He told me that after taking his supplements he would feel depressed. He wasn’t sure if it was the supplements or not so he decided not to take them for a few days to see if he felt better. When he did feel better, he felt the problem was solved so he wasn’t going to take them. It made perfect sense to him and it didn’t occur to him he should tell me. It also did not occur to him that all of the supplements could not cause this symptom. Only one or two could.
I guess that’s a lesson on my part to make sure he feels the communication lines are open. He didn’t think supplements were negotiable. I explained that they are if:
- they cause negative symptoms
- they taste bad
- they cause nausea
- the texture makes you gag
He didn’t seem to know what he was taking them for or why. He’s just always been on supplements of one kind or another. Now that he as older he wanted to know what they do, why he needs them. Makes sense. So I made a deal with him.
- I would always explain what each supplement was for and why he needed it.
- I would listen to him if he tells me he doesn’t like something or it is making him feel cruddy.
- We would try chewables or liquids to find ones he didn’t mind taking.
- He would agree to tell me if something wasn’t working for him.
He was due to have his follow-up blood work done at this time. I figured, “no time like the present to see how he is off all this stuff”. Let’s just say it wasn’t good. What a set back but at least I could show him in black and white why he needs to take them.
- low vitamin D
- low cortisol
- low thyroid
- return in Hashimoto’s antibodies
Over the years supplement problems come and go and you are always devising a new plan or changing products and this doesn’t stop really as they get older. If you have a child that is very compliant and doesn’t seem to mind taking just about anything you’re very lucky. As my child has gotten better over the years he has gained more function, reasoning, decisions making and now as a young person he is doing things NT teens would do. This also means making his own decisions.
While frustrating for us, it’s a sign my teen is being a teen! I can’t really complain about that.
Some of the problem supplements we’ve had issues with over the years:
- zinc: causing nausea
- cod liver oil: causing nausea
- methylated B vitamins causing depression, moodiness, behavioral issues (overmethylation)
It helps to be aware that sometimes compliance issues really have a founded good reason. So I’m off to go shopping for chewables that work for him and reformulate my game plan!