By Roni on September 21st, 2021
| Posted in Blog, Gastrointestinal
One common complaints of parents of children on the autistic spectrum is that their child picks and smears their stool – needless to say, every parent is eager to resolve this issue as quickly as possible.
The common causes of this behavior in children with ASD include:
• Medical issues (constipation, GI issues)
• Sensory factors (interoception problems – not knowing you have to go, enjoyment of smell and texture)
• Difficulties around teaching toilet training skills
• Dietary factors (limited diet may lead to constipation)
As a functional nutritionist for autism, I have found that the majority of children who do this are chronically constipated – digging and picking out bits of stool often helps them to relieve pain, pressure and itching.
If you are struggling with this behavior at home, consider the following nutritional factors:
Fiber: the majority of children that come to me for support are seriously lacking fiber in their diet. Fiber acts as a gentle brush for the intestines, and add bulk to stools, making them easier to pass. In addition, other types of fiber, such as inulin can help encourage the growth of beneficial bacteria and have a positive effect on the brain as well. Adding fruits and vegetables, which children with ASD often avoid, is also a great way to boost fiber and ease constipation. Even if your child resists eating these foods, they can often be added as “enrichment” to other loved foods such as smoothies or muffins. Remember, for picky eaters, fruits and veggies can be offered in many different ways and that even if your child rejects on way that doesn’t mean at all that fruits and veggies will not be accepted happily in another way! (also think fruit leather, veggie fritters and more). When beginning to add fiber, be sure to do so slowly to avoid discomfort and offer plenty of water and fluids.
Gluten and/or dairy removal: I have seen many children experience rapid improvement in constipation with the removal of these proteins from the diet (be sure to consult with an experienced nutritionist to ensure this is done in a healthy and balanced way).
Increase fats: I have also seen children on lower fat diets that experience improvements in their constipation by adding fats such as olive and coconut oil, and ground chia and flax seeds to their diet.
Magnesium (citrate) supplement and others: Magnesium citrate (and other forms as well) is known to ease the passage of stools. As an osmotic laxative, it relaxes the bowels and pulls water into the intestines. The water helps soften and bulk up stool, which makes it easier to pass. (Consult with your health practitioner to get an exact protocol for use.) I have also had success with herbals such as aloe vera juice which can be easily incorporated into drinks such as prune and apricot juices.
Note: This post is for education purposes only and does not replace a doctors medical advice!