Poo smearing. A very real and often extremely uncomfortable experience for parents with special needs children. A topic that is almost taboo to discuss but in some cases a big part of everyday life. Faecal smearing is actually incredibly common, especially for children and adults with autism. Due to its delicate nature, most parents will avoid asking for help.
Fear not. You are not alone. And it IS possible to reduce faecal smearing. Before we look at the how first we must understand why it happens. We can do this using our ABC’s:
What is it that you notice prior to smearing incidents? Often under-stimulation is a major contributing factor. Typically it is the smell and the texture of the faeces that attracts the child to play and spread. To redirect this sensory behaviour, you can encourage playing with a variety of alternative sticky substances. Modelling fragranced Playdoh, finger painting, or playing with glittery slime can be an alternative. You can purchase home kits to make lots of different colours which can keep your child with autism entertained for hours.
If their smearing is for sensory reasons, limiting access into their nappy is essential to taking the first physical steps to prevention. While you could sew tops and bottoms together and duct tape the nappy to a vest, it is probably not all that advisable. Instead, alternative clothing would be advisable. Our bodysuits are designed to restrict access to the nappy from pesky wandering hands. Our garments have an extended leg, which makes it difficult for the child to access the nappy from the crotch area which is reinforced to withstand repeated attempts of stretching the garment when trying to undress and smear.
There could be other elements that contribute to your special needs child smearing. It could be for attention. In this case, it is vital to managing your reactions to the incident. The best way to respond is entirely neutral to the situation. Matter-of-factly set about cleaning up, but it is vital to include them in the process. By offering positive reinforcement on occasions, they have not smeared for long periods of time will show them the advantages of avoiding the behaviour and the smelly consequence of having to clean up after themselves if they do spread their waste.
While it can be a challenge to stop children with autism smearing poo completely, it is possible to reduce incident significantly.Accidents will happen. In cases of these, we recommend keeping a cleaning kit on standby in times of faecal mishaps. To find out more, click here.
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