Why is hydration important?
Ever felt like your brain was foggy and didn’t want to focus – your body sluggish and overall, you just simply felt like you were suffering from a general malaise? Hydration may just well have been the cause of your doldrums.
When you are the caregiver of someone with autism spectrum disorder, monitoring hydration can be a particular challenge. Between gastrointestinal issues – a common symptom among people with autism – and potential communication barriers, hydration isn’t always easy to track and it’s not always readily apparent when dehydration has set in.
If your loved one is on medications, proper fluid intake is especially critical. Since some commonly prescribed ASD medications metabolize through the liver, keeping the body well hydrated to assist with the process is important. Dehydration in this case can cause your loved one to feel even worse.
In addition to tracking general feeling and well-being, monitoring the color of urine is another way of keeping tabs on hydration – lighter colored urine is a good indicator of a well hydrated body while darker urine indicates more fluids are needed.
The ideal way of tracking hydration is of course monitoring fluid intake. This is a tedious task and is certainly a challenge in the midst of a busy day.
How can I track water intake?
Using the Rootines app can assist in monitoring fluid intake of your loved one – by turning on tracking for hydration you can count each time your loved one drinks water. The app will save the information so that you can go back and see what effect being more or less hydrated had on your loved one’s mood and general well-being.
Tips for increasing water consumption
Here are some tips that we’ve learned from you our users for getting and staying hydrated:
Availability – have a bottle of water around all the time – sometimes easy accessibility is the right answer!
Always use a favorite cup
Serve up fluids at various temperatures – if a cold glass with ice isn’t working, try room temperature or even hot water. Sometimes certain temperatures can be more or less palatable.
Mix it up! Find a low sugar juice and add just a bit to a plain old glass of water to make the drink more desirable.
Add fruit or veggies! Sometimes we never know what makes things appealing. Adding some cucumber, lemon, orange slices or even berries could just turn your dull glass of water into something intriguing!
Experiment with filtering your water. Individuals with autism are sensitive and water varies municipality to municipality and well to well. Your loved one may be reacting to some of these tastes within the water that you don’t even notice. Filtering may help alleviate some of these tastes.
Sensitive teeth? If you discover that this is an issue for your loved one, consider counseling with your dentist or switching to a toothpaste that will help people with sensitive teeth. Water temperature will also make a difference here.
Play games! Celebrate after X number of sips. How about using a clean bucket, bowl or even spray bottle (used for drinking only of course!) Breaking down the task of drinking a whole glass of water into something more fun can help make what might seem like and insurmountable task that much more manageable.
If it’s hot outside, be sure to increase your goal for fluid intake
If medication changes have been made, increase your fluid intake
Remember to be flexible
Keep it light, keep it positive! The issues your loved one has around drinking water can vary; from sensory, lack of thirst, limited communication to convey thirst or not valuing the act of drinking water. Keep the subject positive and upbeat and celebrate the wins no matter how small they seem, they are big!
Pay special attention to hydration when you’re traveling or have extra busy days – these are the times we are most likely to forget!
Remember too – if you have success – or if something specific didn’t work, use the notes field in Rootines so that you can refer back.