Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Teach Your Child to Swallow Pills

Sometimes children  have to take a medication that needs to be swallowed. Some medications can be crushed or sprinkled but when medication has an extended release, it must be swallowed to allow time for it to progress through the digestive system before dissolving. The problem is when the child does not know how to swallow pills.  This becomes more difficult, if on top of that, it engages in serious challenging behavior when mother asks the child to do something he does not want to do, and this child happens also to have autism which complicates the entire process.
There is a wonderful pill swallowing technique that has been developed based on research, which can be easily accomplished in a total of 8-10  hours spread over the course of several days.

Stimulus Fading

First, you purchase a variety of stimuli that you could use to teach swallowing. You can start with something as small as a mustard seed. Use items like tapioca pearls, quinoa pellets, and similar. Purchase items in varying size take care to include items up to the size of a navy bean or flageolet. You may also purchase blank pills in various sizes starting at size 4 going up to a size 0.
Note: some folks might suggest that you use small candies or cake decorating items. We advise against this, because those items taste good and could possibly encourage chewing. Remember, we want children to swallow the stimuli WITHOUT chewing.
Then arrange the stimuli in order from smallest to largest. FYI, a flageolet is about the same size as a size 5 capsule. A size 0 capsule is quite large (but they do come larger! 00 and 000). When the child demonstrates that he can swallow a tiny object, we gradually increase the size of the stimuli. After a few session, he  will be able to swallow a size 1 capsule.


The next step is to model pill swallowing for your child. Initially, we recommend that you model it every time you take your medication. Then, when you are ready to teach your child, tell him/her to “watch me” then over-exaggerate the action and promptly say, “your turn”.


The final step is to reinforce the child for attempting and for successfully swallowing. Reinforcement can be as simple as verbal praise but it can also include brief access to a favorite movie, song, or iPad game.
Check out this link for additional information including videos. A professor utilizes a head turn that you can teach if you want.

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