Tuesday 11 April 2023

Helping my autistic kids feel a bit better when they are under the weather

Boy with temperature

Nobody likes feeling sick. Even minor ailments can get in the way of you going about your day. Add in not understanding why you are feeling unwell or how to make yourself better and it gets even more complicated.
One of my kids not only doesn't understand what being ill or having a cold is or why it happens, he struggles so much with communication that he can't even tell us about it. We just have to guess that he's even more fussy than normal, or he is struggling even more with transitions today and looks really tired... maybe he's a bit ill? So how can we help him quickly? Here's a few things we try.

Hydrate And humidify

Staying hydrated is always important, but it’s especially so when they're feeling sick. They’ll need water to fuel their body’s response to the illness, making it vital they get enough of it. Make sure they’re as hydrated as possible to start feeling better relatively quickly. It could also be worth turning on a humidifier when you’re at home, especially if the air in your house is dry. Dry air can be more difficult to breathe in than moist air, making them feel even worse when they’re sick. Just make sure it's something they are used too... our autistic son is particularly sensitive to noise so if it's noisy or not a sound they are used to then it might be counter productive.

Take medication when it helps

They’ll have various symptoms when they’re sick, and sometimes easing these makes them feel better. From cough medicine to the best antacid tablets, there are more than a few of these you could consider. And you can't necessarily take all of these together. However taking medications can be particularly difficult for our kids. 

Medications are different unusual, not something they usually eat or drink and this can make it very challenging. We focus on the worse symptoms they’re experiencing and find things that are easy to administer. Some Vapo rub might help with a stuffy nose but not a headache, but there's almost no chance of David taking Calpol without a massive meltdown so unless there's a major problem we help with what works.


Their body needs to put effort into tackling whatever illness they’re experiencing. Even something as minor as a cold or flu takes up a decent amount of energy. That’s why they could feel so tired when they’re feeling sick. The best way of overcoming this is staying home and resting

The more sleep they get, the more their body can focus on overcoming whatever they’re experiencing. Even if they’re not able to get some extra sleep, it’s more than worth taking the time to rest for a while. Back to back episodes of their latest obsession or favourite movies are ok as long as it doesn't wind them up.

As with everything with our autistic kids it's about picking how best to help them with what they are going through at the moment and picking the things that work best fot them. Personally, I'm hoping the better weather will bring about less colds and fingers crossed, minimal allergies!

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