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5 Important Facts About Fecal Smearing That You Need To Know

7th November 2022

Fecal Smearing is also known as scatolia in the medical literature. Quite surprisingly, it is common among children as well as adults. We all know that toilet problems are not unusual in families with an autistic kid. Sometimes, kids refuse to go potty and holding it in until it becomes a problem. This is troublesome enough.

Fecal Smearing is one of the most distressing behaviors reported by parents of autistic kids. Usually, it occurs among kids with growing delays or post-traumatic pressure. It also means that the child may not be able to express the reason for the behavior. It is an upsetting behavior because of the smell, mess, and unhygienic condition.

The condition can cause loneliness. Eventually, the family will be unwilling and fearful to go outside, siblings will be reluctant to invite their friends over and so on. Unfortunately, there is very little research that demonstrates how common this concern is with autistic children and other related special needs.

What Is Fecal Smearing?

Needless to say, toilet training is a common challenge among parents of kids with autism, few people discuss the smearing of feces. This has been described as one of the most common bowels correlated to the problem behaviors in autism. There are numerous reasons fecal smearing may happen to a child.

The condition covers a variety of behaviors such as:
 

  • Rolling feces in the hands, then whacking the pieces
  • Taking feces of out of the toilet to play with or smear
  • Selecting a spot in the house to play with feces
  • Unclothing in the school toilet, smearing feces on themselves, then getting dressed again and returning to class
  • Using smearing as part of masturbation
  • Smearing and shredding diapers at the same time
  • Excreting in the bath, then smearing the surrounding area

Smearing can be both expressively and bodily draining for parents as well as caregivers.

Basically, research shows three sets of variables that may contribute to fecal smearing behavior:

fecal smearing behavior

Furthermore, some research also claimed that gender, occurrence of intellectual special needs, gastrointestinal signs, and comorbid psychopathology are important predictors of toileting problems.

Some medical problems that may happen in autism or for a child in general. Some sensory challenges may include:
 

  • Over-responsivity (SOR) such as tactile defensiveness (touch sensitivity) or oral defensiveness (smell sensitivity)
  • Under-responsivity (SUR), i.e., the child needs more input in order to feel or smell certain things, and
  • Poor interoception (difficulty being able to feel internal sensations like when it’s time to go to the bathroom)

Fecal smearing is considered a behaviour and it has a meaning. Behavior factors are but one prime set of variables that play a role in fecal smearing.

Helpful Ways To Reduce Fecal Smearing

Here are some helpful tips to lessen fecal smearing:
 

  • Clothing which can obstruct access: for example, back zip footed pajamas Messy play.
  • Various stories which strengthen the routine of appropriate bowel care.
  • Try to keep a record of when and where the smearing occurs, and what was happening before, throughout, and after each incident. This will help to categorize patterns or certain triggers of the behavior or the requirement that it fills.
  • Communicate with the pediatrician and other experts working with your kid, including a nutritionist.
  • Search for and work with a medical benefactor to do a Functional Behavior Assessment to identify the variables contributing to the fecal behaviour accurately.
  • The use of YouTube videos and favorite characters, toys, and even other family members can be encouraging.
  • Try to make a sensory-friendly bedroom. Keep noise machine, a light projector (for calming visual stimulation), and soft/tactile/squishy toys.

We understand that parents who fight with their child fecal smearing, it can be terrifying, frustrating, and confusing. Consulting with experts like a doctor, a psychologist, an occupational therapist or a behavior therapist can be a huge support. The Master of Arts in Education with Special Educational Needs program is something that help to navigate and understand various aspects of special education.

Remember you are not alone…
 


Written By: Ruchi Mehta      

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