Poop as a Sensory Experience

There are so many joys to having children, but let’s not overlook the daily horrors that parents really face. The reality is that parenting has some pretty dark aspects. One of my least favorite, of these aspects, is managing the poop situation. Having twins means that there is a lot of poop in my life, all of the time. It started on the day that they were born, and it is seemingly never ending. I know that this is a natural human function, and I totally expected to deal with poop as a parent. What I didn’t anticipate is that poop would literally take over my life.

It happens at the most inopportune times, and often in unthinkable places. Kids poop and they need to be cleaned up. The task can become daunting for any parent. This is one part of being a mom that I have struggled with from the beginning due to the quantity of changes that the twins required each day. It was tough, yet manageable when I got used to it. I always changed and cleaned my babies whenever and wherever they went. I was able to stay home with the them, so I was always close and able to care for them promptly. It wasn’t awful in the beginning because most of the poop went into a diaper. Every now and then the boys would ruin a onsie or a blanket due to overflow. No big deal. As the boys grew older the poop situation stepped up it’s game. The boys began to play with the poop in their diapers. It did not take much time because they never sat in it for very long. Even so, on occasion they would get it everywhere. I would have to clean the crib and change the sheets, in addition to cleaning two babies and changing two diapers. This happened a few more times than I would like to admit. I was really busting my butt to keep up. It was still, kind of, age appropriate at this point to deal with  so much poop. I was sure it would stop at some point as time passed. It did not!

As the boys got older they were diagnosed with Autism. The poop situation got worse. I would find it all over their room when I went to wake them up after a nap. The smell would smack me in the face as I opened the door to their bedroom. I would get so frustrated. The poop would be on the walls and in the carpet. The toys and books in their room would be covered in poop hand prints. Stuffed animals would be totally ruined. It would be all over their hands and faces. This means it was also in their mouths at times. They were not really bothered by this. I was concerned. They almost seemed to enjoy something about it. I started researching poop and Autism. This is when I found a behavior called smearing. It was not delightful news for me. I was still hoping for an end to the issue at some point. Obviously, that was not going to happen.

I learned that smearing is a behavior that many kids with Autism display. They will do this for many different reasons depending on which professional approach is taken on the topic. What I found is that it seems to be sensory related. There is a smell, a texture, and a taste to the poop. As they smear, they are also moving their arms in ways that may  help ground them. It is fascinating to see it from this perspective. The smearing also seems to be expressive communication. Learning this information does not make it any easier to clean up, but I was understanding more about what made the action so attractive to my boys. I appreciated the insight.

Now, when a smearing incident occurs I get less frustrated. It may not be pretty, but this is a daily part of my life at times. I have to take a positive position on the topic. The action is fulfilling needs that my sons have. I may not love it, but I have to live it. And, since I love them I will continue do just about anything for them. That is what being a mom is about. I am totally up for whatever.


The Millennial Twin Mom


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