Blogging about life in Minnesota, raising our six kids with Down syndrome while battling Breast Cancer.

Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the floor in the morning the devil says, "Oh shit! She's up!"

Monday, January 17, 2011

Sensory Integration and "stuff"

When I went to Eastern Europe to get Axel, I brought along lots of things to keep a boy busy in a hotel for two weeks! I brought construction paper, markers, crayons, scissors, straws, glue sticks, and cotton balls, plus the usual cars and dollar store toys. I also brought along play dough.

Um...Axle doesn't do play dough. 

He was extremely resistant to even touching it with the tip of his finger so I put it away, figuring we'd work on that when we came home. 

So we'd been home a few days when I broke out the play dough again. I took it out of the can and plopped it in his hand.

Who knew he would start GAGGING? Like HARD gagging!

Ok, so clearly there are some sensory issues going on. I haven't seen him react this way to ANYTHING else, only the play dough. The Occupational Therapist at the International Adoption Clinic suggest we start doing some shaving cream activities, along with bowls of beans, sand tables, so that's what I set out to do. But, before I could do that, he had a poop in his sleep episode. I had gone into his room on my way to bed to make sure he was still ON his bed. (he's usually hanging off it, head first) and it was hard to ignore the fact his room reeked! Wow, I thought...that's one gassy boy! I had no reason to think otherwise because he's not had a single toiletting problem since I got him. The next morning I heard him awake (he usually won't come out of his room until he's told) and went in to find him standing naked in the room with a very guilty face. sign of his pull-up though. I had only to follow my nose to find it behind his dresser! Little sneak! LOL As soon as I pulled it out, and said, "Axel' what's this?" he started gagging again.

I got him cleaned up in the tub and dressed, then together the two of us took the yucky pull-up out to the garbage. The next day we had the exact same incident, minus the hiding of the pull-up because I had woken him up and since I was now familiar with the aroma, I stayed while he got his pajamas off. The only problem was, he didn't want to take his pull up off while I was there. Again the guilty face. I helped him get his pull-up off and right away he started gagging, since it was full of poop.

This pooping thing is happening in his sleep, so I'm not sure what is going on. And really, it's a whole other post. What was interesting to me was the gagging. I can only speculate, but it's pretty clear he's gotten into BIG trouble for pooping his pants before, because he did NOT want me around to deal with it! But why the severe sensory reaction?

So Friday I got busy with the shaving cream. At first when I put it on the table he would have NOTHING to do with it. Nope, not even gonna put a finger tip in it. I had him count to three (since he's really into sign counting right now!) and told him that on "3" we were gonna put his hand in the shaving cream. First I counted to three and put MY hand it. I went to take his hand...with mine that was full of shaving cream...and he was NOT happy about THAT thank you very much! So I used my other, clean hand and held his. I  had him open his hand flat like I did, and together we signed 1...2...3! If it wasn't so scary for him, I would have been laughing hysterically at his facial expressions. But he did NOT gag!

The funniest part was he was frozen in place. He stayed there with his hand flat on the table, still in the shaving cream, but unmoving. He was frozen like this:
We did this a couple of times and then he was ready to take over from there. He played with the stuff for about 45 minutes! As it would start to dry out he'd ask for more. Oh, I was so very proud of him! And the shaving cream on his chest? Yeah, he was NOT a happy camper when he got an itch and scratched it, only to get shaving cream all over! LOL But he dealt with it well, and continued to play.

Now, if anyone has anymore ideas on handling this, I would love to hear them! Also, what about the pooping in his sleep thing? He did it again this afternoon during a nap and I was right there with him. He was sound asleep (as was I LOL) when it happened. I can see a new behavioral thing and pooping when he's awake, but in his sleep? What is up with that? He's pooping during the day so I don't get why this is happening. He doesn't seem to be constipated, so...hmmmmmm Any thoughts?


Karien Prinlsoo said...

Leah, I wonder if he had to clean up his own poop, before, therefore the gagging? And maybe the consistency off the play dough makes him think it is poop? What about making your own play dough-the one with flour, salt and water on the stove top and then you can add vanilla essence to make it smell nice. When he sees you making it, and maybe Angela playing with it as well, he may be more inclined to tolerate it.

abby said...

I was thinking the same thing - he may have been made to clean up his own mess (and it may have been in a not so kind way - similar to pushing a puppy's nose into their own mess). His reaction to playdough and other object that can have a similar texture to poop may have triggered something buried way in the back of his brain and now the sleeping accidents may be a result.

When he has an accident, it may help for you to make a big (positive) deal of cleaning it up on your own - letting him know you are mama and you will take care of it, you're not upset with him in any way and he doesn't need to worry about it.

Kathie Brinkman said...

I'm wondering if the pooping in his sleep is a relaxation issue. Maybe he's now gotten so comfortable at your home that he's just more relaxed and that causes him to have a bowel movement in his sleep. I know that some kids tend to "hold on" to their poop when they feel stressed or afraid.

Leah said...

@Karien and Abby- yeah that's kind of along the lines of what I was thinking.

@Kathie- I don't think it's a withholding thing, cuz he poops twice a day like he has a timer in him! Nothing about his actual toileting habits have changed since I got him.

Dawn said...

I was wondering if his diet has changed...maybe you have him eating such nutritious food with fiber...of which he isn't used to eating in his country?
No idea on the gagging. A thought came to mind about the smell of the playdoe and of poop. Maybe another sensory thing?
And he is so stinking cute! no pun intended :-)

Karien Prinlsoo said...

Is he maybe eating more now than previously, later in the evening than what he was used to?

Leah said...

Well, the playdough is obviously sensory related. You touch something, you gag..that is sensory, no matter what the reason behind the sensory reaction is! That's why I titled the post "Sensory Integration". LOL

Here's what his schedule was like in the foster home:

10:00 am wake up (really! You'll see why as you read on.)
10:30 eat breakfast (he was still eating at 11:00 am when we'd arrive for visits because it takes him an hour to eat a small meal!)

3:00 pm lunch

8:00-9:00 pm dinner.

10:30-11:00 pm bed time.

Now he eats his meals and goes to bed at a normal time! The schedule changes I made I did the very first night I had him, and he's eaten an American diet since I had him as well.

Molly said...

They say that if you have a child who likes to play with poop, you give them playdough instead. So I would guess that the texture (and shape maybe?) probably reminds him of poop. Or it could just be that he's averse to that specific texture.

Gotta love those sensory avoiding kids. We play with shaving cream at camp and I had one kid who REFUSED to touch it and another who tried to smell it, thus necessitating me wiping it all off his face while he grinned at me. Hehe. I love sensory play.

Sheila said...

Okay, this is gross but...has it occurred to you that his previous caregivers may have shoved his face in it? Sorry, but I saw some odd behaviors in "caregivers" who took these things as a personal afront. I really hope that isn't it -- but you said he used to be in a icky place before fostercare.

If it's strictly sensory (and I pray that it is), Michael used to have a lesser reaction to writing with a pencil. He would make these faces like he was choking and shiver and it made him sick to his stomach.

Michael uses a pen to this day, we couldn't get past that sensory issue but we did with others by repeated exposure to varieties of things that he found fun. We didn't have an issue with poop with Michael but he didn't like playdoh at first but LOVED cookie dough - don't know if that would help Axel or not.

lakesmit said...

any remote chance of seizure activity? I know a little boy who's biggest "hint" that he was having "sleep seizures" was pooping in his sleep. It was confirmed with EEG's.

But it would also make sense that it's about deep sleep, maybe he's finally able to get to that deep sleep relaxation place.