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Tips and Tricks for Giving Medicine to Kids

Alethea Mshar
Special needs mom and Blogger
03/20/19  8:27 AM PST
Giving Medicine to Kids

Our son Ben was diagnosed with congenital hypothyroidism at his one-year-old checkup, and from that day forward, he has taken a thyroid supplement every single day. In addition, he has numerous other health complications as well as an Intellectual Disability (Down syndrome) and ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder). This combination of medical and developmental diagnoses makes giving medications a difficult necessity, as if giving medicine to kids wasn’t difficult already.

It’s hard to cajole a child into taking Tylenol for an illness, but when the meds come multiple times a day, every day, no matter what, you do what has to be done. As such we have a huge catalog of ways to keep getting medications into our child. Ben still cannot swallow pills at the age of 13, so we have to use liquids, capsules we can open, or crushable pills, making our challenge even bigger.

Make it fun

Variety keeps Ben cooperating, so we find ways to be silly, goofy, funny, or just catch him off guard. We take pictures and videos because he loves to watch himself, and we deliver filled syringes in his shopping cart, his tractor toys, and trucks, you name it. If the medications arrive in style, he’s happier to see them. The pets have given him his medicine from time to time too. And when all else fails, we fake giving them to his brother. There’s nothing like jealousy to make him want something he knows should be his. When he feels poorly we also use stickers high fives, and Facetime with family members to add incentives for him to cooperate.

Make it not-so-bad

We discuss the taste of the medicine with the doctors and pharmacists. Some of Ben’s doctors have medication flavoring written into the prescription. Our pharmacy staff knows us by name, so they know what flavors he likes, and are happy to look up what goes best with certain medications. We go so far as to have a bottle of flavoring drops on hand, which we buy through Amazon. Many people use pudding or applesauce to cover the taste, but that hasn’t been a reliable way for us to get medicine into our son. He can sniff out a sneak from a mile away, and won’t even try it if we mix medicine with food.

When all else fails, just get it done

When Ben feels crummy, there is no amount of good flavor or fun that will make a difference. On those days we tuck the syringe into his cheek, as far back as possible, squeeze his cheeks together and squirt slowly. This makes it really hard for him to move his mouth to get the medicine out and spit. Then we blow a puff of air (or two or three) into his face, which triggers a reflex to swallow. When nothing else works, this usually gets most of the medicine in.

Nothing is foolproof, especially for a child with ASD, but the vast majority of the time these tricks work. In extreme cases, we have had to ask doctors for prescription suppositories, but that’s a last-ditch option. We try to work with positive solutions to keep things going smoothly for everyone’s benefit.

inclusion on the playground

Alethea Mshar is a Special Needs Mom and Blogger.

Read her blog, Ben’s Writing, Running Mom

Follow her on Facebook

For more information, see related articles about children with disabilities here:


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