Encopresis – Autism Spectrum Connection?: Journal of American Academy of Pediatrics Article

Encopresis -Autism Spectrum Connection? Very Possible

Dairy free, gluten free diet


One of the mothers  in the parents’ forum of the Aspergers Association of New England posted this link to an article about the need to research the connection between Autism Spectrum Disorders and GI Conditions.

Some things that I found particularly interesting were that researchers know how to induce ASD-like symptoms in laboratory animals and that probiotics tend to help these animals (at least the mice!) with anxiety.  (My son is on probiotics, so I think it’s worth continuing).

The article does not give definitive answers but sites unconfirmed findings to suggest what needs to be researched further. Still,  I am much more willing to try a gluten-free diet, and since my son is on a dairy-free diet, more concerned about whether or not he is getting the vitamins necessary for his bone growth.

(Note that the article is easier to read in the PDF format provided.)


Positive Discipline Takes Us From Bad to Worse

Positive Discipline – Negative Results


Reading 1-2-3 Magic (Photo credit: surlygirl)

If you read my post Positive Discipline: Will It Help?, you know I was very gung-ho about trying the Positive Discipline method last week. I promised to report on the Positive Disccipline Special Needs discussion group on http://www.positivediscipline.com.  I joined the group and posted a question asking what I should do to reverse my son’s regression back to encopresis.

One super-nice woman who also has a child with encopresis wrote that she forces herself to not help her daughter and let her learn through the consequence of having to clean up the mess when she has an accident. I wrote back, promising I would force myself to step back and let my son take charge of his enco.

The next day was Saturday. Following the rules of Positive Discipline, I tried to get him to make his own bathroom schedule, so could he be in charge and not have to listen to me  nagging him when he was supposed to go. Unfortunately, he wasn’t interested in the whole thing, and carelessly wrote down a few times on a scrap of paper. Then he said he had to go outside and play and walked away from me and his schedule.

On  Sunday, I tried to step back and let him follow his the schedule anyway. I was not going to say a word, but by lunchtime it was clear he hadn’t thought of using the bathroom, and I couldn’t stand it anymore.

“Didn’t your schedule say that you should go to the bathroom around now?” I asked cautiously.

“I don’t have to go!” he said

“But you made the schedule. You’re supposed to follow it even if you don’t have to go.”

“I’m not going!”

I was careful not to say anything else.

After lunch, Chloe had a friend over, and he wouldn’t stop bothering them.  At one point he took all of the unbaked cookies they had carefully arranged on  a sheet and squished them together into a big ball. Later, I looked downstairs, and he was running around in his underwear, trying to get the girls to notice him.

At this point I became frustrated and flustered. One minute I was explaining why his behavior was making me sad, the next screaming that he would have to start paying a dollar for ever pair of underwear he ruined.

In just two days, it was obvious that positive discipline was not working for us. There was no way it was going to get Connor back on track; in fact, he was becoming  more and more out of control.

Despite my statement in my What’s Happening in Vegas post  that the tougher Magic 1-2-3 strategy doesn’t work for me, I decided to give it another try.  I also unplugged the television and turned the computer off. They are Connor’s downfall – once he’s watching or playing, he can’t make himself stop.

That evening I told  Connor that he would either wash or pay for any soiled underwear. The next day I gave both children an allowance so I could charge them if I had to do any chores for them. And I went back to using the routine charts that I had made. The kids hate hearing “that’s one; that’s two, that’s three” (a key strategy in 1-2-3 Magic) so much,  that I already see an improvement in behavior; however, it is accompanied by lots of attempts by Connor to see if yelling and screaming will still get him his way. So far, Chloe has been a model child.

Today I went to the library and took out the book 1-2-3 Magic.  I haven’t reread it yet, but it’s a long five hour drive to NJ, so I’ll have plenty of time; by the time we’re back from Thanksgiving, I should have Connor back on track.

Wish me luck, and happy Thanksgiving!

Encopresis: A Few Useful Websites


National Library Of Medicine (Wikipedia)

Encopresis: Websites with Useful Information

According to WebMD, about 1% to 2% of children in the United States under the age of ten have had encopresis; however, I’m learning that there is not a wealth of websites that give thorough and objective information about the condition.

It actually took me a lot of googling before I figured out what my son’s problem was.  I’ve done a little research and found some helpful sites for other people who may find information scarce.

Positive Discipline: Will It Help?

Positive Discipline – Will It Help – The Jury’s Still Out


Positive Discipline A to Z (Amazon)

I  took out Jane Nelsen’s Positive Discipline A-Z: 1001 Solutions to Everyday Parenting Problemsfrom the library. I am still reading Section 1 which explains 27 tools that you need to understand the rest of the book, so my review is forthcoming.

I also  printed the handy 17 point Positive Discipline Guidelines  PDF from the official website ). You can download or print this cheat-cheat for free, and if you’re interested in seeing what the method is all about, this is a good one-page place to start (or to end, if you’re lucky).

A bit of advice:  Cross out #4 and #5. I’ve tried #4, asking my kids about the best and worst  moments of their day, and I’ve learned that they find the question annoying and ignore me. I’ve also tried #5 already, having family meetings to solve problems, and if my husband doesn’t sabotage them because he thinks they’re ridiculous, we make a great plan that we never end up carrying out.

However,  numbers 3, 8, and 9 really work well, and I’m hopeful about number 12:

  • #3 advocates spending special time with your child. To deal with Chloe’s recent brattiness, I’ve been making sure that we read alone (not with her brother) at night, and her attitude has really improved. 5 stars
  • #8 reminded me to take time for training.  Although it’s faster and easier to do certain tasks on my own, especially with Connor, I’m trying to remember that he’s going to have to learn the task (for example, tying his shoes) eventually, and once he does, I won’t have to do it and he’ll feel better about himself. (Haven’t begun yet, but I’m guessing a lot of stars.)
  • #9 was basic –  show respect for myself and my child. Lately, I’ve been yelling and rolling my eyes instead of reflecting on how to deal with conflict before I react, and I’ve probably created some bad feelings. Probably? I’ve begun work on this one, and I feel a lot better. 5 stars
  • #12, positive time out,  is new to me.  It involves working together with each kid to create a positive time out area that he/she likes being in. Then I don’t have to banish anyone to time out, I can just say “Will you feel better if you go to your time-out area?” We haven’t done this yet, so the jury is still out.

My next update: The Positive Discipline Special Needs Discussion Group

What’s Happening in Vegas???

What’s Happening in Vegas? I Bet It’s More Fun Than Here

Las Vegas (photo from Wikipedia)

Las Vegas (photo from Wikipedia)

I think the happy member of the family award goes to Jim this week. His sister Jo asked him, all expenses paid, to accompany her and her husband Randy to a medical conference in Las Vegas. Jim’s job is to make sure Randy, who is turning 50,  has fun, while Jo attends conference meetings.

Even though I’ve seen Jim gamble too much, I’ll admit that I didn’t exactly try to prevent the whole thing.  When Jim asked me if he could go,  I suddenly thought, four days of dinner without poopy jokes, a quiet house that lets  Connor focus on his homework, and no one getting upset about the way I load the dishwasher. I gave Jim my blessing. I guess I also thought, without being subjected to Jim’s moody discipline, the kids will be cooperative and less bratty.

Thursday was my first day to myself, and by the time the kids arrived home, I was kind of glad to see the them coming off the bus and running into the house. Much to my disappointment, without even a “Hi, Mom,” they dashed over to the  Halloween candy they collected the previous evening  and began speed eating  mini chocolates. Since they wouldn’t listen to my insistence that they eat the candy after dinner, I rushed to put an easy meal of hotdogs and cucumber slices on the table so they could eat something remotely healthy first.

We all sat down, and I began to ask the Chloe about her day. She looked away from me, irritated,  grabbed her plate, and began to walk downstairs to eat in front of the TV.

Remember, Chloe is 7, not 17. I said something too nice, like, “Come on, don’t eat in front of the TV. Won’t it be fun to all eat together?”

“You’re so mean! It’s so much more fun with Daddy here!” Chloe siad. But she did come back to the table and throw down her plate.

Connor agreed with her.

Trying to see if they can manipulate me now that Jim’s not home, I thought. They’re not going to get away with it.

But somehow, during dinner, Chloe managed to go downstairs with her hotdog and turn on the TV, and I let it go – who wants to deal with that much conflict, right?

The nonsense continued all evening.  I told Chloe she had to stop distracting Connor while he was trying to do his homework, and she burst into tears. I tried to comfort her, and explain that I understood it was hard to be the one who wasn’t getting attention, but she said if Daddy were here he would make everything better. At bedtime Connor lay down in the middle of the hallway and refused to brush his teeth.

When Jim called I told him that Chloe really missed him; I didn’t want to get into the details.

But the next day, I kept thinking about how obnoxious Chloe had become, even before Jim went away and how I could never maintain a tough discipline method for long, and how unfair it was that none of the specialists who help me with discipline take my passive personality into account.

The most frequently recommended strategy is 1-2-3 Magic, a method and book created by Thomas Phelan which gives kids three chances to be good before sending them to time out. It never works because either my kids won’t go to time out when I tell them, or I become uncomfortable with the lack of warmth it creates in our relationship. Sticker charts are also recommended all of the time. Honestly, I’m not enough of a supermom to remain consistent with the number of charts it takes to cover all the ways in which my kids need to improve.

No one  ever recommended it specifically, but there is a method with a whole series of books called  Positive Discipline created by Dr. Jane Nelson. I had to discover it on my own,  in the library. I can’t remember why I stopped using it, but it definitely reflects my conflict averse  personality.  I  realized I would have to look back at my binder full of parenting notes to remember the different aspects of the method, but I did remember that you’re supposed to say something like “I can’t talk to you when you talk to me like that,” when your kid says something obnoxious.

I tried it on Chloe when she came home  that day and began giving  me lip for telling her to stop eating Halloween candy before dinner. No lie, she backed off and came back all sweet and apologetic. So that’s my latest “happy family” plan. I’m going to review my notes, go to the library and get the most appropriate book from the series and try it for a week. If it works, I may just have to lie to the specialists who are pushing me to be a tough mom with a reward box. If not, nothing lost.

As for Las Vegas – when Jim called last night, he told me that his oldest sister, who lives in California, surprised them by arriving at their hotel with her son.  Not surprising at all, if you know the family, but  five people squeezing into the same hotel room doesn’t sound like a ton of fun.  Poor Jim, I hope it doesn’t put a damper on the vacation.

Honestly, I doubt it’s getting too much  in the way of his fun.  He’ll probably be missing that hotel room this afternoon when he comes home to a messy house and a wife who wants him to learn the principles of Positive Discipline. In fact, he’ll probably be so overwhelmed that he’ll criticize the way I loaded the dishwasher, and then  say he just got off the red-eye and go take a nap.

John Elder Robison: Cool Aspergian

John Elder Robison: Cool Aspergian and Autism Advocate

John Elder Robison Book

Look Me in the Eye (Cover by Amazon)

The first book I read after my son was diagnosed with Asperger’s was  Be Different, Adventures of a Free-Range Aspergian with Practical Advice for Aspergians, Misfits, Families & Teachers by John Elder Robison. It looked like fun, while the other books listed on the many information packets I received looked very serious and academic.

Be Different is a fun book, although Robison talks about how devastating it was to grow up not knowing how to interact with other kids and why he was different (he didn’t learn he had Asperger’s until he was 40 years old). Due to his social isolation and his inability to work with teachers and counselors, he dropped out of  high school although he had a genius IQ.

John Elder Robison KISS

But it’s hard to keep a genius down.  His talent with electronics enabled him to make a career of creating amazing amplifiers and guitars for the band KISS and work for Milton Bradley and other companies designing new toys and products. Along the way, he observed how other people interacted and responded to each other in conversation, and taught himself how to pass as neurotypical.

The book is very encouraging, and shows that someone on the spectrum who is lost as a child can be accepted socially as an adult. Of course, most of our kids are very bright but not geniuses. Currently, John Elder, who married twice and has a son, is doing what he really loves – running a specialty auto repair shop. He is also a strong autism advocate, and I hope to see him speak some day.

A surprise for me was that John Elder Robison is the brother of Augusten Burroughs, the best selling author of the fascinating memoir,  Running with Scissors. Of course, if I had read Robison’s first book,  Look Me in the Eye, before I read his second book, I would have known this, because Augusten Burroughs writes the intro and John Elder often mentions his younger brother.

Although I liked both Look Me in the Eye and Be Different, the latter was my favorite because it spent more time discussing Robison’s difficult childhood and gave a great deal of social advice to people with Aspergers.

You can find out about Robison’s books, speaking engagements, and advocacy in the blog I link to in my right sidebar, look me in the eye.

John Elder Robison comes across as a very warm person with a wry sense of humor in his books, so it’s interesting to watch him speak in monotone in some of his videos.  Check out the following in which Augusten Burroughs interviews him about his first book:

John Elder Robison Interview by Augusten BurroughsFrom high-school dropout to guitar creator to autism advocate – who wouldn’t agree that John Elder Robison is a pretty cool uncool person.

Autism Conference 2012 Site

I’ve been looking at sites to see what autism conference will be held next in my area. Unfortunately, what I’ve learned is that unless I find a job, I will not be attending a conference soon, no matter where it is.

Autism Conference 2012 Handouts and Webcasts

As I surfed and clicked today,  I reached the National Autism Conference 2012website, and I found that all of the  handouts and powerpoint presentations given by the presenters are posted, and you can read or download them for free. In addition, many of the presentations were webcast, and you can watch these webcasts for free.

Major brain structures implicated in autism.

Major brain structures implicated in autism. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On Wednesday’s agenda, I checked out the handouts and presentation for session 53: Teaching Ten Important Lifetime Goals to People with ASD of All Ages given by Barbara T. Doyle. The 4th handout and the presentation look very useful, and I plan to print them out and read them again.

I also went to the archive page and watched half of the  webcast of session 39: What about Me? Understanding and Addressing the Needs of Siblings of Children with Autism given by Dave Celiberti.  The presentation is great so far, but it is 165 minutes, so I’ll have to come back later.

If you have time to check this website out, I recommend it. The Autism Conference 2012 topics are broad and varied and chances are, you’ll find  something that interests you.

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