Teaching developmentally disabled children with chronic illness to swallow prescribed capsules

Roberta L. Babbitt, John M. Parrish, Patricia E. Brierley, Melinda A. Kohr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Child noncompliance with prescribed medical regimens, including nonacceptance of oral medication, frequently impedes medical treatment and achievement of clinical aims. During this study, we used a single-subject experimental design to evaluate the effectiveness of a capsule-swallowing training curriculum specifically developed to promote acceptance of oral medication by multihandicapped children. Four such children participated, each diagnosed with a chronic pediatric illness requiring daily intake of oral medication. Training consisted of verbal instruction, demonstration, reinforcement for swallowing candies/capsules progressively larger in size, ignoring mild inappropriate behavior, and gradually providing less guidance and structure. In each case, the curriculum produced routine independent swallowing of prescribed capsules/tablets. Follow-up assessments, coupled with parent satisfaction ratings, suggest that skill acquisition was both enduring and clinically significant. This study validates a brief, readily exportable, and effective approach to teaching handicapped children to swallow capsules.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)229-235
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1991


  • behavior management of oral medication administration
  • capsule/pill training
  • child compliance with medication regimens

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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