Those of you with a squeamish stomach should probably move on. This will not be for the sensitive!
I have been pregnant fours times, carrying three pregnancies to term. Each time, I knew I was pregnant within days of conception for a very simple reason…I started to vomit! Each morning, I lost my cookies but was fine come 11 am. Odors set me off or looking at pictures of something. It could be food, it could be laundry detergent, or it could be a hot day with mowed grass especially fragrant. I kept a plate of saltines and a bottle of ginger ale at my bedside and would nibble a cracker or take a sip before I got out of bed and that seemed to help. But by 11 am, I was back to normal and could go about my business. Tough to do when you have toddlers and a teaching schedule!
When expecting Son #2, Son #1 was about two and we were beginning rounds of testing to get a diagnosis. But a funny thing happened around that time, something so odd and so shameful, I told no one about it; Son One began to smear feces.
I woke up one morning and couldn’t get out of bed before I started to heave from a horrid smell. I ran to the bathroom, went about my business and then peeked in to Baby One’s room. I started to gag….my Lord! Baby One was covered in poop and so was his crib and the wall next to the crib. I went into my room, found a red bandanna, tied it around my face and then started the clean up process. I ran a bathtub of bubbles before I got the Baby, grabbed him, stuck him in the tub, scrubbed him from head-to-toe—did I mention he was frightened by my Old-West- Train-Robber look?–so he was screaming. I dressed him, and brought him into the TV room, turned on Sesame Street and got the cleaning supplies. By now, I was dry heaving under the bandanna. I stripped his bed and threw the soiled linens in the bathtub while I cleaned the crib and wall. I took the bed linens to the washer and started a load and then began to sob. I made him breakfast and got him from the TV room. I thought this was just a one-fer, I didn’t know this behavior would continue.
A few weeks later, I put Baby One down for an afternoon nap and, since it was after 11 am, was able to do some housework with cleaning supplies that would make me nauseated in the mornings . I began dinner and then washed the kitchen floor. I wanted to finish the floor before I got him up, so eventho I could hear him rustling around, I finished. Big mistake. He was sitting in the middle of his crib, happy as a pig in…..well, you know! My husband didn’t quite believe me at first, because it seemed so bizarre. One night, we heard Baby One giggling (yes, you read right, GIGGLING) and when we went in to check, guess what we found him doing?
It was right around this time I stopped calling family regularly. I was so ashamed and really, whom could I talk to about this? Would my Great-Aunt Pat or Cousin Charlotte or my Mom or Mother-in-law know why and what to do? They already questioned me as a mother and this would cause them to think less of me. I told no one and my husband and I did everything we could think of to stop it.
Now the feces smearing didn’t happen all the time, so we never quite knew what would trigger his desire to do it. I checked on him often when he was napping. We tried to get him on a BM schedule, something we were trying to do anyway to have him toilet trained (hahaha, the was a joke on us….he wasn’t completely toilet trained until he was six) before the new baby arrived.
Throughout his childhood, he had bouts of smearing, most intense right about the time he was finally toilet trained. After that, it was occasionally, usually if he was too lazy to get up to go to the bathroom. We used a behavior technique called *over-correction*, which meant in this instance we made HIM strip his bed and put his linens in the washer, after we gave him a COLD (he loves hot/warm showers so a cold one would get the crap off but not give him pleasure) shower. He was about 12 when we resorted to that and I am happy to say, that really put an end to this behavior.
Knowing what I know now, it is common for many, many children on the Spectrum to be feces smear-ers. Doesn’t even matter their functioning level, they just smear. The whys don’t even matter…for every Kid, there is probably is a different reason. It’s not unusual AT ALL and in later Blog posts, I’ll discuss some ways of handling it so it GOES AWAY!