Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Learning to Swallow Capsules

Every day I understand more and more how much easier life is now that Michael can swallow capsules. Before, if we wanted to go away for a weekend, we had to pack a small cooler's worth of his pharmacy. Now, it's just a couple pill cases and two small bottles. So, much easier!

I had read about different techniques for teaching children how to swallow pills, but they didn't really seem to apply to Michael. As with most children on the spectrum, the best way to accomplish anything with Michael is to play to his strengths and interests. He has always loved playing with water, so we decided to make it a game.

· First, we had him practice holding a small sip of water in his mouth, without swallowing it. (This is the part he loved!)

· Then, we had him put a capsule toward the back of his tongue. We were careful to let him do the placing, so he wouldn't get over anxious. We also made sure that he didn't put it far enough back that it would cause him to gag.

· Next, we had him take a small sip of water and hold it in his mouth. He was a little more wary with the capsule, but still loved the game.

· Finally, we asked him to swallow the water. He was distracted enough by being allowed to play with the water in his mouth that he was able to easily swallow the capsule.

Once he realized what he had done, he was so proud of himself! He switched entirely over to capsules that weekend, and hasn't looked back since. He's been suspicious of new capsules and tablets, but has really adapted well.

I realize that this approach to swallowing capsules won't necessarily work with every child. I think the key is to really think about what your child likes, and is good at. Then, take those strengths and try to make a game of it. Sometimes, they just surprise you.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting this! I know you know Charlie has issues with swallowing pills... but this "game" gives me hope (as we've tried everything else). Looks like we have a goal this weekend! :-)

Petra said...

Great, great, GREAT job in teaching Michael to swallow caps. And thanks for writing about it, I am sure it will be helpful to others.

For my guys, their extremely exaggerated gag reflex was what was getting in the way of swallowing capsules. And one of the underlying causes for that gag reflex was a chronically sore throat (inflammed tonsils) and enlarged lymphnodes in their necks. Once I started making some headway in reducing their viral load and the sore throat issues lessened, they started swallowing capsules literally overnight. I see an occasional flare now of the 'gag reflex' issue, and invariably there is then 'something viral' going on.

Renee said...

Thank you! Michael had his tonsils out a few years ago, but still has some gagging issues on new foods and textures. We took him to a cranial-sacral therapist yesterday, (a whole post in iteself) and she said that some of Michael's food/gagging issues might be structural. I am really hoping that CS can help!!