All children need a certain percentage of calories from their diet to come from fats and oils.

Children with special needs may benefit from certain oils in therapeutics doses as well. 

These therapeutic doses have shown promise for children with autism, ADHD, learning disabilities, inflammation and mood concerns. 

The reason is because many special needs children have abnormalities in how certain fats are metabolized in their bodies.  

We already tend to eat too few omega-3 fats and too many omega-6 fats, so when a special needs child is not getting the omega-3 fats they need, along with not being able to metabolize them well, a host a symptoms can arise. 

These can range from poor gross motor coordination and visual processing disorders to mood swings and aggression.  

Shifting the omega-3/omega-6 ratio so that more omega-3 fats are included can positively impact symptoms. 

Signs that your child may need more omega-3 fats include poor eye contact, sensory dysregulation, tactile hypersensitivity, skin rashes, or attention problems.

The most common source of omega-3 fats is in fatty fish/fish oils but you can also get omega-3 fatty acids from other foods as well such as flaxseeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds and nuts (especially almonds and walnuts). 

Incorporating fatty fish such as salmon and tuna plus adding seeds and nuts in your child’s diet can help provide more omega-3 fatty acids, but supplemental dosing is usually recommended for children with special needs.

Fish oils should be used for 4 months before you review the benefits. 

Keep a journal of their behaviors if you can and see if you notice any improvements from when first starting.

Fish oil supplements are made up of EPA and DHA, two different types of omega-3s fatty acids. 

To get enough EPA and DHA for a therapeutic effect, liquid fish oil supplements are usually the way to go. 

If your child is prone to frequent infections and depression, cod liver oil may be a good place to start as it gives more omega-3s, along with immune-supporting vitamins A and D. 

High-quality oils are usually odorless and flavored in ways that children will accept, with fruit flavors, that allows them to swallow spoonfuls in the higher doses needed for a beneficial effect. 

If your child refuses to take the liquid, try mixing it in juice.

Keep fish oils refrigerated and out of bright light. 

There are chewable gel caps but you would need to take so many of them to get the relevant dose.  

If you don’t notice the changes you are after with taking the fish oil supplement then you may want to pursue lab work to determine exactly what fatty acids supplements would work better. 

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