Getting Your Autistic Child to Drink Enough Water

Hunter wasn’t drinking enough water. As a result, he wasn’t hydrated and is having trouble going to the bathroom. When I looked up answers, I was shocked to find it is a common problem for autistic children. The reasons vary, but often it’s a sensory thing or a task they don’t consider “important”. (Eating is a thing that Hunter considers unimportant and an “interruption” in his day).

There are so many posts on it, that I’m sure a search will bring you some answers, or at least possible reasons why your child is balking at staying hydrated.

Hunter is a gifted and highly verbal autistic child, so I was able to ask him for answers. There are some solutions that worked for our family, so I thought that I would share a little list.

Tips for getting your autistic child to drink enough water:

  • It’s partly a sensory problem for Hunter, which is common for people with autism. He doesn’t like the cold water slipping down his throat. The way he described it reminded me of the time I accidentally swallowed an ice cube shard. Very uncomfortable. For this reason, we keep water on the counter in a glass jug so that it’s room temperature for him.
  • Speaking of the glass jug, Hunter swears he can taste a plastic aftertaste if his water is stored in a plastic jug. We keep the water in a glass jug and pour it into a glass cup for him so that it “tastes right”.
  • Speaking of the glass cup…haha… I have a glass cup that isn’t too tall (and a cool skull shape) that came with a lid and a silicon straw. (Thank you, Halloween sales). I have more luck with Hunter staying hydrated if he drinks from a straw since he finds it more comfortable on his throat…and he’s less likely to spill because of his poor coordination. (Although we’re working on his D.C.D. slowly).
  • And now here’s a reason out of left field, which I wouldn’t have figured out on my own! Hunter happened to come across an article in one of his magazines (National Geographic?) that explained what could be in tap water…and now will only drink filtered water because tap water grosses him out.
  • I found an article that explained when is the best time to drink water and WHY your body needs water. I broke it down into simpler terms and put it on his bathroom mirror so that he understands why it’s useful. Hunter is a great reader and has a scientific mind, so he loves to know the why of things, but I’m sure there’s clipart or infographics without words that could do the same.
  • I started a reward chart. For every glass of water he drinks, he gets 3 minutes of video game time. I punch a star into his punch card and count it up every second day. He can earn up to 90 minutes to play on designated video-game days. Hunter is starting to feel better when he drinks more water and notices the change, which means we can phase out the rewards soon.

So that’s what has worked for us! Hopefully some of the suggestions help you, too. Would love to hear your stories and struggles with getting your kids to drink water! Just comment below. A dialogue is always welcomed.

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