For parents of autistics as this may be helpful and warning TMI… also please note SPD affects everyone differently and I’m just sharing my experience with it.
Hypo SPD, Eating, Drinking, and Potty Time:
When I was little I had a really hard time with the bathroom. We didn’t know I had SPD and I am hypo sensitive to organ sensations, meaning I can not tell when I have to go. (I’m on top of my potty time now btw) Back then I couldn’t tell when I needed to go the bathroom. I would have accidents from hyper focusing on play and not knowing I needed to go. I felt deep and long lasting shame for this as my mother was not gentle about it. I’m sharing because if your young autistic kid struggles with hypo sensitivity in the same way it could be this.
I also struggled to use the bathroom because of noise. Even by myself in a quiet room I was alarmed by my little pee sounds. They would echo all over and I was absolutely convinced everyone could hear me and that mortiphied me. I didn’t realize not everyone hears the way I do. I would sit there in a panic trying to avoid the noise. The only way I could go was to have my Mom sing to me, or to run the faucet because it took away that triggering noise. And when I’d flush the toilet I would run again from noise. I was never able to really go properly in public restrooms because if the noise of dryers, doors slamming, people chatting, etc. It’s hard to go when you’re on the verge of panic from a sound meltdown. Earmuffs would have helped me immeasurably. They do now. I know they would have then.
I also struggle to feel hunger and thirst and so I wouldn’t eat or drink enough. I was always blacking out on playgrounds from dehydration and was perpetually skinny. The thing about forcing me to eat is that I don’t feel hungry even though I need food. As an adult I can rationalize this but as a kid I could not. It hurts my stomach to eat the amount I know my body needs. Have you ever eaten when your not hungry? It sucks. I have to set timers to remind me when to eat often. And I only feel hunger when I’m really hungry and stumbling is my first indication. I had no idea my body worked this way until I was 35.
I set timers to remind me to eat. When I get into a schedule my body or mind responds and I feel hungry again at the same time. If I am struggling with executive functioning I always make meals in advance. If I get to the point where I’m stumbling I’m also pretty close to a meltdown and getting food in me can be a challenge as I’m not thinking clearly. Having food made really helps. I always have something quick I can eat while I make something more if needed. Doing this has made my meltdowns go down by a huge percentage and increased my functioning exponentially.
Figure out how much water you or your child need in one day. Get a container you can see through and fill it up each day. Monitor your water through out the day and remind yourself to drink it. There is an app that keeps track for you and reminds you when to drink. If you have missed your drinking times and are now dehydrated, get an electrolyte beverage of your choice, i.e. Gatoraid. I now always buy two large ones to have on hand. I also keep electrolyte tablets in my bag so I can add them to water in an emergency. My sign of dehydration is dry lips and foggy thinking.
Track when you or your child ate and drank last. Keep track of how long it has been since eating or drinking and restroom use. If it has been a long time urge them, or try, to go. Note: I can only tell I have to pee if I really have to go, or if I gently press on the outside of my lower abdomen over the bladder. If I feel a sensation I have to go. (Crazy huh?) If I don’t keep track I only feel the need to go when it’s an emergency.
If your child is very noise sensitive they may fear the bathroom and it may have nothing to do with organ sensation. Have ear protection on hand for potty time, especially in public. Even small unobtrusive sounds can cause overwhelm for us. Someumtes ear plugs hurt our ears. Do not be afraid to use ear muffs. I never knew a sense of peace until I started using them at 35 and realized for my whole life I had been in a fight or flight response my whole life. Ear muffs soothe our pain, please dont deny us that.
Thanks for reading! If you have any additional tips or tricks feel free to comment below and let me know if you have any questions.