Autism and Fecal Smearing

November 06, 2022

Let's talk about fecal smearing, a topic that is often not brought about even among special needs parents.

I think one aspect of autism and developmental delay among children that is not often talked about is fecal smearing. I guess because it’s a “dirty” topic, it somehow even borderlines taboo. However, I do believe that it’s a common problem for special needs parents like us.

Autism and fecal smearing
Photo by Dids

Autism and Fecal Smearing

As a matter of fact, Miguel has been doing it for around two years now, albeit intermittently. It first happened during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown. We were in our bedroom. It was a slow day at home when the unmistakable smell of poop wafted in the air.

I thought it was just an ordinary toilet routine for Miguel but when I checked on him, I saw him holding a piece of it and was beginning to spread it on a pillow. I rushed to stop him, cleaned him (and the pillow), and proceeded with our day like nothing unusual happened. Anyway, it was just the first of quite numerous occasions, the worst happened just a few days ago when Miguel did it twice in less than three hours.

Having realized some months ago that poop spreading was an odd behavior, I did some research about it and found out that it was called fecal smearing. It’s a behavior in which the child takes their feces and spreads it on surfaces like the bed, wall, and furniture. It can also be the act of playing with their poop and then wiping their hands on their clothes or other household items. 

Fecal smearing is a fairly common behavior among those with special needs such as obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression, ADD, and autism. I do admit that I was getting frustrated about Miguel’s fecal smearing, hence, the need to understand it and the urgency to find a solution.

One cause may be the lack of stimulating activities which can be remedied by the use of soft substances like toy clay or even pastry dough. Another cause may be the need for a special needs child (or person) to remove something uncomfortable from their body. Hence, they would scoop their feces out of their pants.

In terms of the solution, what works best for us is being alert when Miguel poops since he is nonverbal and doesn’t know how to tell us when he is already done. We would then clean him immediately so that he’d feel fresh and comfortable again.

I’ve also read that having your child wear restrictive clothing, one that would prevent them from reaching into their behind, would also be helpful.

Of course, keeping your child busy with lots of stimulating activities to keep them preoccupied, would be a good idea.

Lastly, it’s always best to consult your developmental pediatrician about it, especially if your child’s fecal smearing behavior is getting worse so that they can recommend the proper course of action or even treatment.

Do you have a similar experience with regard to your child’s fecal smearing behavior? Feel free to share them in the comment section below because it will be truly helpful to other special needs parents.

Similar stories:

This post may contain affiliate links, including those from Amazon Associates, which means that if you book or purchase anything through one of those links, we may earn a small commission but at no extra cost to you. All opinions are ours and we only promote products that we use.


Leave A Reply

Feel free to share your thoughts! Relevant comments are welcome on this site. However, spam and promotional comments will not be published.

Post a Comment