First off, don’t be discouraged by the title of this post! When my son was younger, the pediatrician assured us that ketchup could be considered a vegetable because he ate so few things. So I can just see a young mom reading this and asking herself how the heck she will ever get her child to eat vitamins. Don’t worry! I have been there and I have a plan. In our family, we have finally evolved to being able to take small pills. But even if your family member doesn’t do that yet, don’t worry — I have a solution for that too. Read on!
Vitamins are Key
I’m sure you know that vitamins help certain health conditions, but did you know they can help Autism too? It’s true! My brother is also on the spectrum, and writes this great blog at decodingmyautism.net. He recently told us about his personal experience with taking vitamin D and zinc. He goes in-depth on his blog about the science behind it, but he really noticed a difference in how his brain worked as he took them both — so I tried it with my son.
Within a couple days of taking vitamin D, I could see a real difference. He wanted to socialize with kids he normally ignored. He wasn’t glued to his iPad as much. He seemed happier, and he was picking up the subtle things in conversation that he usually missed. It was amazing. His humor was coming out, too. That is one of the first things that seem to disappear when he is feeling unsocial. But when he is in the mood, he is a really funny kid. It was enough of a change that my mother even commented on it when she visited. I knew then that I just had to share this discovery.
Vitamin D and Zinc
My brother calls vitamin D and zinc the “Autism Dynamic Duo” because they help the brain create some of the neurotransmitters it is lacking in autism. They help you sleep better and reduce your stress. And in my son’s case, he is able to overcome the anxiety he has with transitions a lot easier. For example, he loves water — but if you ask him to take a shower, it could be days before he gets the courage to do it because the transition from dry to wet (and dressed to naked), is so hard for him. He has recently discovered that showers can be quick, and that he always enjoys them once he’s in the water. It’s just getting there that he struggles with.
In my family, we have MTHFR, or the inability to convert vitamin B-12 into the usable form the body needs. So we take a methyl B-12 every day and it fixes the problem. I have been doing an experiment with my son because we suspect he struggles to convert vitamin D too. So this is where your family members who don’t do pills will find their solution for vitamin D.
My Little Trick
As part of my experiment, I got an inexpensive lizard light bulb on Amazon. It was about $20. It specifically needs to send out UVB rays. When the skin comes in contact with UVB rays, it creates its own vitamin D. We just use a traditional flexible gooseneck desk light that you can direct like the one here.(Natural sunlight also has UVB rays in it, but I was looking for an indoor option)
We live in a very cold place, so when we are outside right now there isn’t much skin showing. In the summer, though, it’s so hot that my son doesn’t want to be outside. So we decided this lamp was a good long-term investment. We have been shining the light on my son’s skin for 15 minutes a day and it has been working well. I love the UVB light bulb we got because it’s not very bright and it doesn’t get hot (at least not in the fifteen to twenty minutes we use it). I stay to supervise to be sure the light isn’t hurting him and that he doesn’t knock the lamp over.
You Don’t Have to Take a Pill
I like being able to direct the lamp because I can direct it past his eyes and avoid any unnecessary meltdowns. With his sensitive senses, it is always a balancing act between getting him what he needs vs overwhelming him. But he is happier, sleeping better, and seems more balanced since we started the Vitamin D and Zinc.
So I have given you an alternative for the vitamin D if your autistic loved one doesn’t do pills, but the zinc is much simpler. On Amazon I found these zinc tablets that will dissolve on your tongue.
These tablets taste mildly like grape. But when my picky son complains about the taste of a medicine I feel strongly about him taking, I will give him a chocolate chaser. Once the medicine it was in his mouth, I gave him a little bit of his favorite chocolate to suck on. Sometimes I even give him chocolate before the medicine to be sure the taste is really masked. It always works marvelously!
When I have to crush up a pill (which is what you can do with a zinc tablet) I make sure to put it in chocolate syrup. It really is amazing what chocolate can cover. I would recommend you look up the proper dosing for your child for these supplements based on body weight. I have found that too much Vitamin D can become toxic, as can too much zinc. So do a little research to be safe, or check with your doctor.
Glad for More Info
So there you have it. Zinc and vitamin D, whether created by the body on its own or taken as a supplement, both help autism. My son is doing so well. He is learning more quickly and opening up to more social situations than ever before. My brother’s article explains the science behind all of this really well, so I would recommend you also check that out.
My brother is also starting a series delving deeper into all the things vitamin D and zinc can do for the autistic brain. I wanted to share, hoping it can also help you. My brother’s blog is a great resource for me because he is really researching his autism and himself. I love having that inside perspective, and I hope it will help you too. Until next time, my friends!
Abby is capable and caring. She is learning more about Autism and parenthood every day. And even though she is the first to admit she makes a lot of mistakes, she is so grateful to be on this journey. She comes from a family with many autistic members. She invites us to join her, as she shares her adventures. She wishes to emphasize that Autism is a difference not a defect. If you or a family member have autism, Abby wants you to know that this isn't a bad thing. And you or your loved one are not sick or broken. Together we will teach the world this new language.