Something that is conspicuously missing from my newsfeed in relation to Autism, is poo. Poop, faeces, excrement – whatever you choose to call it, it happens. 🙂 It happens every day, and for autism parents, far too often (or not enough) and in too many places. A lot of us talk about it at get togethers with other Autism parents – what colour it is, what shape, whether it floats or sinks, and how many places our child has been able to hide it.
We’re often obsessed with it – mostly because it can give us a good insight as to the gut health of our child, and it’s subsequent relation to behaviour. Doctors ask us about what number it most closely resembles on the Bristol Stool Chart, how often our child ‘goes’ each day, what colour it is, and even what smell. We examine it for bits of food or other objects that really shouldn’t be in there.
Then there’s the other obsession with poo. The one that our kids have with it. A lot of kids on the spectrum seem to enjoy playing with it – squeezing it, rolling it, smearing it on their bodies, the walls, their toys, the furniture, the carpet, and sometimes even eating it. My son likes to throw it with a satisfying ‘thud’ onto the walls and ceiling. Sometimes he shapes it into little balls and rolls them around on his table or bed. He particularly likes it when it’s lovely and squishy, so it smears better on the wall, and all over his legs and arms.
Awareness of poo smearing has obviously spread (apologies for the pun), as there are now several places that offer one-piece suits that supposedly stop our little darlings from being able to access their nappies. You can get them in larger sizes for older kids, and even in compression suits. None of them work for my son, and I know of several other Houdinis who are also not fazed by these modern inventions – if they feel the need to smear, nothing will stop them.
This makes for interesting household decor. Our son’s room no longer has any wallpaper on the walls (he enjoyed peeling it off immensely), and is instead decorated in crayon, marker pen, pencil, food remnants that we couldn’t quite manage to get off, and a lot (and I mean a LOT) of brown stains. No matter how hard you scrub, the stains don’t come off – one of these days I’ll have the time and money to cover the walls in washable paint and then hopefully they won’t look so disgusting anymore.
The floor used to be carpeted. After a lot of shampoo and scrubbing, we finally decided that it had to go, so it got ripped up and replaced with washable flooring. It’s much easier to sweep the food crumbs and bits of paper off it, as well as wash the poo – although now that there is no challenge to cleaning, somehow a lot less poo ends up on the floor. Sometimes he does leave a little present for us though – unfortunately we don’t always find it straight away, as his floor is always covered in bits of shredded paper, which tends to hide a lot of sins.
The ceiling has little bits of red wax all over it – he had a great deal of fun throwing a red crayon at the ceiling to see how much of it would stick. In between, there are some little brown stains. One day I’ll get a ladder and scrub the ceiling. Every item that goes in his room has to be washable, and has been washed numerous times. The mattress looks like it should be condemned – one thing he objects to with a vengeance is sheets (which I think will be the subject of another blog post), so his mattress is readily available for colouring in. Donations for a new mattress will be gratefully accepted!
Could we please raise some awareness of this issue by having more Autism and Poo stories in the media?