autism and eating feces


He eventually grew out of it with some occasional problems such as leaving dirty wipes in the trash. My Son is three, and is in the process of being diagnosed with Autism. I don’t know. He is ID and has mental health diagnoses for anxiety, also treated by psychiatrist. Just make sure he puts them in the wastepaper basket and not in the toilet. Pain? Related Questions To hold your child back or not? The smell is awful and he lies about it saying it was an accident after he googles ‘how to poop yourself’ and I confront him. He is no doubtedly using them in some fashion for masturbatory purposes and to release stress. Coprogenics involves the eating and smearing of feces for pleasure and surprisingly, 1% of the human population have apparently engaged in it at some time! . Masturbation is a normal part of sexuality. Editorial Policy: Autism Awareness Centre believes that education is the key to success in assisting individuals who have autism and related disorders. It is a very comprehensive book on the subject. It is sensory as he loves to squish his toes in it and slide around in his faeces. The individual enjoys the feeling of eating certain non-food items. As he has cleaned up after himself before for years. You may need to look into a sensory diet. Role of the gut-brain axis in the eating behavior of children with autism spectrum disorders. If he is constipated, he may be picking out bits of fecal matter to relieve the pressure and when he has it on his hands, he doesn’t know what to do with it. My 9yr old  non verbal  ASD/ADHD/ODD son does this pretty much everyday. He then hides it under our TV canbet couch or smears it on the blankets or couch. It overlooks powerful motivators like addiction to routine and addictive investment of identity in routine once feces related routines are entrenched. Using the case as a catalyst, we discuss what is known about this disorder as well as treatment strategies in the hospital setting. Very taxing on family right now. Have there been any changes in his diet as of late? Thanks! If it weren’t for the highly unsanitary nature of feces and the potential difficulties of cleaning it, this would be an acceptable behavior for children to … Along with obsessive masturbation, smearing feces is one of the behaviors most cited as one of the horrors of ‘low functioning autistics’.  You might try to imagine what it’s like for such families, cleaning feces off their child’s face, eyes, out of their child’s mouth, off the walls, the furniture, the bedding, the awareness it’s all under the child’s fingernails and passing bugs, that ingesting it may even ultimately reduce the health and lifespan the child.  But how autistic is it? We found out that our son was chronically constipated after having an abdominal ultrasound done. I would highly recommend that you watch the webinar I gave on toilet training – . How can I help a teenager with this? My son picks at his anus and then smells the feces, and I noticed the behaviour was increased during parasite infections. If underlying medical causes have been ruled out and the root cause is sensory (enjoys the smell, texture, feel of feces), you can try offering substitutions for the feces such as: Touch – warm play dough, pudding, toothpaste, shower gel, clay, sand and water mixture, Visual – finger painting, shaving cream, clay, bread dough, Smell – Marmite, vinegar, essential oils, spices, scented lotions, Sound – the texture will tell you the sound the material will make when squeezed. She has always done this but they were able to control her with putting on her one piece pajamas backwards with a t shirt over it. Ever the arty Autie. For children on the autism spectrum, it is important to utilize a behavioral approach, using few (if any) words. I feel so sorry for all of the people going through similar things especially the kids/adults with the “problem” I would love some suggestions. But the thing is my brother has the capability TO do IT. I enjoyed surrounding myself with my smell and watching it disappear into the carpet. If he is not toilet trained yet, please consider watching my webinar on this process as I address smearing and constipation in it – . He is off gluten, sugars, processed foods. Being diligent about parasites (we use herbal remedies and probiotics have been helpful) especially around the full moon has helped reduce this behaviour, which used to escalate to smearing. I address constipation and smearing in it. We’re here for you during COVID-19, providing information and resources like we always have for the past 17 years. Please ask your family doctor if your son might be constipated. For Maureen, education brings positive change to the lives of those affected by autism and autism spectrum disorders. Which I’ve explained I most certainly am not and that I love him and sometimes you may have to take 2 or 3 showers a day as a common cuirtisy for “roommates you live with. He wears a nappy at night or else he wets the bed. I’m not sure what has changed to prompt him to start doing this and I honestly feel lost and alone. With some children, the problem appears to be difficulty telling food from non-food. Thank you so much for this information. Is the nappy only for nighttime? If nothing happens, take a 20 minute break but keep watching him for signs that he may be pooing like squatting. Picking can mean he has difficulty getting a bowel movement out or he may not get the sensation that he has to go or even to push the stool out. Strategies will need to be individualized as every person has their own reason for smearing. You may have to look at using something like PEG-3350 but please talk to your doctor about this. You will have to be a detective and get to the bottom of this. It is a highly accessible book that explains all aspects of smearing and provides answers to questions so many of us are afraid to ask. No one likes to talk about this topic. Required fields are marked *. Let us know how we can help. This information is helpful for physicians to determine what is going on. If you do find out it is connected to masturbation, you may want to offer a lubricant and explain how it is used. This kind of sensory stimulation may be similar to other autism-related behaviors such as spinning or looking at lights. I have a 17 year old foster son who a year ago started digging (maybe originally constipation but has been treated and cleared) and is now smearing more and more. W.A. Donna Williams is an Australian born adult with autism who was assessed as psychotic at the age of 2 in 1965, labelled disturbed in the 1970s and diagnosed as autistic in her 20s in 1991. As I write this he is laying in raw fecal matter , poop on his blanket, and everywhere in the bathroom. Bingo! Author, artist, singer-songwriter, screenwriter. She is waking up almost every night now playing with her feces. Smearing can be reduced or minimized no matter how long it has been happening or how much it has occurred. As a result, some can choose to smear their feces and fulfill that sensory need. If underlying medical causes have been ruled out and the root cause is sensory (enjoys the smell, texture, feel of feces), you can try offering substitutions for the feces such as: Touch – warm play dough, pudding, toothpaste, shower gel, clay, sand and water mixture. You’ve also figured out the function of the smearing which is half the battle. Nothing worked, and we just caught him sneaking in a corner, bending over with his fingers in his bum. Sabah, you have to get the constipation in control before you start toilet training. My loved one started around age 4 and 12 years later, I think it is still going on. Fecal smearing is on page 3. And nearly 12 percent have a condition called pica, in which they eat non-food items, such as dirt and paper. Handle him in a different way? Autism consultant and public speaker. Sometimes there is one than one cause, making it more difficult to resolve because the behavior is complex. Pica Explained. Recently, the team at ASU conducted a two year follow-up study, published in early 2019. Children experiencing these problems are at risk for serious health and growth problems that can lead to life threatening consequences. Parents may encounter various types of inappropriate or risky poop behaviors, including pica (eating the feces), anal poking, sexualized behavior with feces, and fecal smearing (playing with or spreading around of feces).    Perhaps its about time we looked at how to compete with their motivation toward Coprogenics so that something else might be as familiar, as rewarding, as their own feces. Help! He is perfectly capable of performing self-care tasks but he also recently stopped washing fully except his face and teeth or just very early morning washing to get rid of poop traces. He feels that I’m trying to boss him around or making fun of him. Doing this practice in the morning may be a way he wakes up. Has his appetite dropped? Read 3 Responses. Toileting is a complex process and as parents, we have to be the detective to figure out why certain behaviors are happening. My mother solved it by taking me to the GP, she went in, got herself valium, came out, drove me to the hardware store, left me in the car with my brothers, arrived back with a potty, had them wind the window down, she threw it at me and said ‘you wanna piss in your room, sure, then you’ll piss in that’. Some children with autism smear feces for the sensory stimulation it provides; the sight, smell, or feel of the activity may offer a comforting feeling. This kind of constipation typically resolves with lifestyle changes such as adding more water, fruit, veggies, and fiber to your diet. Hello Maureen, I’m broken by it. He wakes up very early puts the TV on and sits in his bedtime nappy and the plays with his feces. Its a big problem that many parents are embarrassed to talk about with friends, family or even their pediatrician. We’ve tried reward systems for a year and it is only getting worse. Your son may have certain sensory needs that are not being met. Communities > Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) > Eating Feces. Reward systems generally don’t work for this behavior. Help! For children with autism, sensory issues are the most common reason for fecal smearing. He is a high functioning autistic kid who was potty trained by 1 and a half. I am a proponent of getting rid of diapers when toilet training. I would also be curious if he has any constipation issues because this can cause an itchy anus which then results in picking. Aa. It can also be helpful for the caregiver to reward and provide consistent, I can remember my mother issuing an ultimatum over my son’s fecal smearing – extinguish the behavior or no more weekly Sunday dinners at her house. I am at a loss. Does he roll it in between his fingers? There should be no punishment involved as this will not reduce smearing episodes. By contrast, those with severe Exposure Anxiety have employed poo smearing to rid themselves of social entanglement, human proximity, and social invasion of their room and those with EA may also find incontinence can be preferable to the social intrusions of supervised toileting.  But these people don’t appear blissed out by smearing and when the EA is countered these behaviors go. Kay, when you ask you son if he has to poo and he says no, he may truly not feel the sensation that he has to go. I would highly recommend that you read the book “What to Do About Smearing” that I have referenced in this article. Maureen Bennie created the Autism Awareness Centre in 2003 to address what she saw as a gap in support and advocacy for those struggling with autism and autism spectrum disorders. Hi Maureen, thank you for writing this article – it is the only helpful source of information on this matter I’ve found. Let’s Stop Calling it ‘the Autism’ – Autism and poo smearing,, Vale Polly Samuel (aka ‘Donna Williams’) 1963-2017, Memorial speech by Chris Samuel, Polly’s husband, Footsteps of a Nobody by ‘Donna Williams’, Why admiration is not true connection – Polly Samuel (aka ‘Donna Williams’), To love is to EMPOWER – by Polly Samuel (aka ‘Donna Williams’), Visiting me after I’m gone by Polly Samuel (aka ‘Donna Williams’), When grieving the loss of someone who is more than ‘just a partner’. I hear you! It sounds like your son is still not completely toilet trained if he is still in nappies. Mother is trying natural remedies, but I am open to anything? I feel like I shoul... 10 year old stutters. 3, CrossRef; Google Scholar; Lussu, Milena Noto, Antonio Masili, Alice Rinaldi, Andrea C. Dessì, Angelica De Angelis, Maria De Giacomo, Andrea Fanos, Vassilios Atzori, Luigi and Francavilla, Ruggiero 2017. Illustrating the point, if YOU dished up a feces sandwich for an otherwise fussy eater who also happened to be a feces eater, do you think they’d actually want it if it were YOUR decision they eat it? You have to address the trauma and stress your son is experiencing right now. Eating problems are common in autistic people. This is often the cause of picking and smearing. This could be the reason. Also try and keep his physical activity up to alleviate anxiety and help him to self-regulate. These are then habit, and habits have associated emotional/identity rewards, as linked to biochemistry reinforcements as any amount of smell, texture, taste. I also have found him using my lingerie. Smearing can be both emotionally and physically draining for parents and caregivers. Unusual feces-related behaviors have also been linked to frontal lobe tumors, substance use disorders, epilepsy, obsessive compulsive disorder, and autism. Please help. Click to Read Maureen's Full Biography. He gets upset straight away mainly because he think he is going to loose his stuff as punishment. I am curious how he plays with the feces. Eating disorders such as failure to thrive, rumination, pica, obesity and anorexia nervosa can affect children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Using diapers can prevent a quick response to the urge “to go”, some may not even know you use a toilet to eliminate in, and remaining for any length of time in a soiled or wet diaper can cause the anal area to become sweaty or damp leading to anal itching, then picking and smearing. Issues such as only eating very few foods, not being able to eat at school, going long periods of time without eating and pica (eating non-foods) can feel difficult to understand and manage. I will read the book, thank you for referencing it. Coprophagia, eating one's feces, is common in animals but rarely seen in humans. I’ve tried so hard to not react but sometimes shear exhaustion gets the better of me. Bruce, what does he do with the poop? … I wish this book had been written years ago because it would have saved me much heartache. Good evening/morning my son is 5 and smears and his poo. I am wondering if he has been in the foster system. And what to do about it, kind of lost. When I ask him why he says he likes the feeling. He picks up parasites from drinking pool water. It helps me to know this. My son is turning 14, he recently started to poo his boxers and hide them – I have a feeling it is due to lockdown, dealing with divorce and moving home. However, findings from human studies on this topic are unclear. Autism, Food & Eating Disorders: Overcoming Restrictive Eating. Close Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) Community 1.3k Members Eating Feces Mari21. usually the carer has lost control of the boundaries too ie, someone can’t make something your shit (pardon the pun) unless you let it become your shit Any advice? Sometimes I cant help but get shocked when I see it and he will look very guilty. It’s not constipation. In her presentations she draws not only on her own experiences but on international experience as a professional autism consultant since 1996. You will have to be a detective and read about all the reasons this may be happening. He did have constipation issues when he was 3, but now is a regular pooper – he complains about every bowel movement, but he does poop daily. More information about her and her life’s work can be found on her website at . Thanks so much for this informative post! It’s not a topic parents are able to discuss with friends and family. You may want to have a stool sample analyzed. I would also want to know where his stool is on the Bristol Stool chart. If he likes the feeling of playing with feces, I have suggested some substitute items. Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. presented by Autism Speaks ATN/AIR-P p.5 Behavioral Interventions for Primary Care Physicians: Pica, the repeated eating of non-food items, is the eating disorder most often displayed by children with autism. The simplistic assumption that poo smearers are just stimming, or having sensory fixations with the texture, smell, taste, overlooks the emotional gratification of being boss, having control, keeping the unwanted behaviors as one’s own sense of power/territory. Eating feces is not uncommon and it is estimated that 1% of humans have indulged in this activity. Remember that the fact that fecal smearing and other inappropriate behaviors that involve poop have been documented in people with a certain condition doesn't mean that everyone, most, or even many people with those same conditions … Thank you. I would be interested to know what he does with the poo. Shannon, he could be smearing because it provides visual stimulation but I would guess that he is constipated and picks a bit out to relieve the pressure. I have written numerous articles on toilet training and recommended books on the subject. Please some advise. Parents worry that fecal smearing will happen when their child is outside of their home – at school, daycare, or in a public place. myself? I have this article on creating calming strategies – , Low Arousal Approach – , yoga and exercise – and Addressing Challenging Behavior- . ( I’m not sure for what, though. Children with developmental disabilities, like autism, are more likely to continue to explore orally or to not understand the dangers of ingesting non-food items. he just does it when he feels like it and he knows he is able to get away with it cuz my dad will just do it later. I’m curious….if my son is smearing would this be a sure sign that there is some sort of mental illness? When I tell him no he laughs and tries to do it more even saying “om nom nom” as he ingests it. He doesn’t smear it as such, he just takes it from his nappy and eats it. Like most issues called ‘the autism’, compulsive and obsessive poo smearing has its own name; Coprogenics. You say it is increasing every time he goes to the bathroom.,,,,,,,,,,,,,, Rolling feces in the hands, then hiding the pieces, Taking feces of out of the toilet to play with or smear, Choosing a spot in the house to play with feces, Undressing in the school toilet, smearing feces on themselves, then getting dressed again and returning to class, Smearing and shredding diapers at the same time, Defecating in the bath, then smearing the surrounding area, Psychiatric issues (OCD, exposure anxiety, mental health issues), Sensory factors (interoception problems – not knowing you have to go, enjoyment of smell and texture), Difficulties around teaching toilet training skills, Dietary factors (limited diet may lead to, Emotional factors (response to anxiety, the reward of a hot bath, sense of autonomy, understimulation/boredom, an expression of anger), Sexual factors (gratification, a sign of abuse), Focus on your own breathing prior to clean up – calm, steady breaths, Go somewhere alone to have an emotional reaction if there is the need to vent frustration, but make sure the individual is not present. ( Before I say this let me just say that my father cares deeply and goes above and beyond for him) The only thing I could think of is relay the message to my dad and have my dad tell him so he doesn’t think his older brother is telling him what to do right? It is a way to keep connected to my body when sensory issues make me want to tear my skin off. I would need a lot more specific information to help you troubleshoot like where he is at with toileting skills, where and when does the smearing occur and in what context. How autism causes or affects eating disorders, I do not know. You say he is a foster son with no trauma. Have you consulted an OT to create a sensory diet for your son? Autism Awareness Centre’s mission is to ensure our extensive autism resource selection features the newest titles available in North America.

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