It's something that I would venture to guess many parents who have children on the autism spectrum have dealt with at some time but are seldom brave enough to talk about. My theory is you have to laugh to keep from crying. I hope this story reminds you that you’re not alone, that we’re all in this together—even when things get difficult and messy.
So the official “P word” for this article is, you guessed it… poop.
There are certain things as a parent you become accustomed to: pee, boogers, blood, and poop. As your child ages they hopefully grow out of some of this; however, if you have a child with autism, it's not unusual to still not be potty trained.
During our journey with autism, I have cleaned up my share of poop, especially after 14 years. Luckily, it has come in phases, which has been easier on my husband and me. There were the poopy diapers, playing in the poop, or maybe the "I want to get out of the poop, so I will smear it on the carpet and wall” phase.
Our most recent incident was comical and I wouldn't share it if I didn't think it would make a few people smile—and recognize that you aren’t alone in dealing with these daily struggles.
It started with the voice echoing down the hall, "Mom, I pooped." Now that my husband is on a sleep apnea machine (CPAP), he is lucky enough to not hear the "I pooped" calls, so I get the late-night duty.
I have seen quite a bit in my 14 years with my son—and my 23 years in the medical field—but I had never experienced something this interesting. As I staggered to the bathroom, there was my dear son, with poop on the walls, the floor, the toilet, the sink—EVERYWHERE.
My first thought was "Where do I begin?"
I promptly cleaned him up and put him in the shower while I was cleaning everything else up. I was scrubbing down everything with bleach, but I failed to start with the floor. This is where the story starts getting comical.
I had rolled up my pajama bottoms, and I began to slide in the poop on the floor. It was all I could do to keep from falling. With my son in the shower, I cleaned up a path so I could get him out and get him to bed quickly.
I managed to clean the wall, the toilet, and a path on the floor, get him out of the shower, put new clothes on him, and get him to bed. After that, I proceeded to bleach the floor and then crawl into the spare bed. I was exhausted.
My husband wakes up in the morning to take a shower and is wondering why I am in the spare room. I kindly inform him it had been a long night. As soon as he finished his shower, he came back and said, "Bless your heart. What the heck happened? There is poop on the ceiling and on the bathroom mirror."
I start laughing hysterically, thinking about how I was so concerned with cleaning my poor son, the floors, and the walls, but didn't think to look at the ceiling or bathroom mirror.
Moral of this story: Sometimes, you just have to laugh. Laughing can be healing and help restore perspective.
You have to laugh when you are sliding on poop in the bathroom. You have to laugh at the pure physics of a child flinging their hands and managing to get poop on the ceiling and top of the bathroom mirror.
You just have to laugh. After all, everyone poops.
For more information on connecting with other parents, use this tool on NavigateLifeTexas.org.