Autism & constipation

Why do Children with Autism Suffer from Constipation?

Why do Children with Autism Suffer from Constipation?

Before I begin sharing tips. I’d like to ask you a question. How sure are you about what and how much your child eats in a day? Does your child eat sufficient fruits or drink water during the day? Without a food diary, we wouldn’t know. It’s time to keep one.

Another factor- is if your child has been potty trained or are you potty training your child? There are many factors to consider to be able to resolve constipation in your child along with dietary factors. Some dietary factors that can be the reason for constipation are nutritional deficiencies, dehydration, low fiber diet, high fiber in diet with poor water intake, bad gut health, Irritable bowel syndrome, and many more unknown factors. Then why do children with ASD suffer from constipation?

Let’s begin with some diet advice to help your child pass motions without pain and discomfort.

Water- the forgotten element

We all think we drink sufficient water every day. But when we start measuring the quantity of water we drink daily, we aren’t drinking enough. Now just think how much water your child may be drinking in a day. For some children who haven’t yet started expressing themselves verbally, how much water do you think they might be drinking? It’s time to understand your child’s water and fluid requirements and help them meet these requirements. It could be giving them water in their Sippy bottles, 360-degree bottle, or just a bottle and keeping a note in a food diary daily. It’s best to avoid foods that act like a diuretic, which means these foods or beverages remove water from the body through urine. So if your child has a habit of drinking a little tea or coffee, it’s best to avoid it and break the habit.

Whole is gold

Choose whole grains like whole wheat over maida, brown rice, rolled oats over refined oats, beans and lentils, and unpolished dals over polished dals. Avoid ready-to-cook foods since they are made up of mostly maida. Even if they are made with whole wheat or millets they may contain preservatives that can aggravate other ASD symptoms.

Vegetables – fiber vs hard stools

You can eat any two vegetables on a daily except potatoes, carrots, and beetroots which can be consumed thrice a week. Some vegetables being rich in Magnesium help in increasing moisture in stools. Grated raw carrot is a great salad option that can help with passing motions. If your child loves carrots then add them to your child’s diet. The Best part of including at least 300 g of vegetables a day is that your child gets added benefits of vitamins and minerals.

Fruits – a natural laxative in meals

1-2 fruits a day will help with ease of bowel movement. The fiber in both fruits and vegetables helps in retaining moisture and adds bulk, keeping stools soft while easily passing motions. There are six juices that you can choose from to have in a day, orange juice, fresh prune juice, pineapple juice, lime juice apple juice, and pear juice. Fruit juices have high fructose if not utilized is excreted out keeping stools moist.

Movement – gets things moving

I cannot stress sufficiently how important movement is to help with the movement of the bowels. Notice a child unable to sleep and wakes up in the middle of the night. It’s because a few hours of not moving can lead to trapped gas in the intestines causing pain, waking that child up. These children then begin playing, which gives them relief.

At 1 special place, we have a holistic and wholesome approach where with diet an occupational therapist helps your child with activities that can help get your child’s bowels moving.

Dietary fiber supplements and laxative medications

I don’t prefer prescribing dietary fiber supplements or any other medications since it doesn’t solve the root cause of constipation. Hence it can be used only when diet and water are not sufficient to ease the painful passing of stools. Doctors may prescribe them.

Good gut health

Not to forget, disturbance of the normal gut flora can give rise to yeast overgrowth, which can damage the inner walls of your intestine, aka Leaky Gut Syndrome. If not treated, it can progress to Irritable Bowel Syndrome. These damaged areas are open and give way to many bacteria, undigested food, and chemicals that enter through your mouth, it will now enter the blood. Once they enter the blood they can cause various problems like triggering the immune system, messing up the way the brain functions, increasing inflammation, and many other symptoms. As you know, adding pre-biotic and pro-biotic foods to the diet are great treatment methods for good gut health. But what if your child has IBS and you may find your child bloated and gassy after having curd? Then it’s best to contact your child’s dietitian because there is a different approach to diet.

It’s always best to consult a dietitian when you know your child needs help with his/her eating habits, nutritional deficiency, or gastrointestinal issues. Interested in getting your child the help he/she needs with constipation? You can contact 1 special place office for diet consultation.

In conclusion, ensure you are aware of what your child is eating and practice maintaining a food diary. Including the above-mentioned foods and practices regularly can take up to one month to show results. Considering whether the child has been potty trained or not and if the child tends to withhold the stools can help us understand whether it’s because of food, the child’s mind, or an undiagnosed medical condition. Withholding stools can make the stools hard and difficult to pass. Resolving these issues is important as soon as possible.

Comment on your child’s progress if you notice any improvements, your experience can help other parents with their child’s constipation.

Suhana Shriyan
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