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Dr. Mark
Dr. Mark, Psychotherapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5334
Experience:  Dr. Mark is a PhD in psychology in private practice
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I have an autistic grandson who is 9 years old an a twin.

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I have an autistic grandson who is 9 years old an a twin. His brother is autistic also. One of the twins has such a horrible diet and refuses to eat anything new or healthy. We believe he is texture driven. The main problem is he doesn't have a bowel movement sometimes for 5 or 6 days and when he does it is not only uncomfortable but I would assume painful. His doctor recommended a stool softener but when he did have to go, he could not make it to the toilet and went in his pants. His stool is very hard and smells horrible. Is there any suggestion that you can make or else direct us to some reading material or a web site that can teach us how to introduce him to healthy food so he doesn't have to struggle. I know its painful and we want to help. Please help us help him.
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Dr. Mark replied 5 years ago.

Hi! I believe I can be of help with this issue.

I can imagine how distressing this situation must be for you. You are clearly a loving grandparent and seeing your grandson going through this must be so hard. I'm so sorry.

You are hoping for tips and websites on foods and getting him to eat a more varied diet. But I have a sense from what you write that we're not dealing with just his being a picky eater. I am concerned he has sensory processing issues.

Interestingly, I work on a case with a psychiatrist whose daughter was diagnosed with sensory integration disorder (SID), nowadays often called Sensor Processing Disorder (SPD). The fact that there is no one agreed upon name yet tells you how recent it has been that we have identified this problem and have begun formulating treatment protocols.

This psychiatrist had never heard of it before his daughter was diagnosed! He now knows a LOT about it. I think that your grandson needs to be evaluated for SPD. Now, finding someone who is competent to do this in your area may be a challenge. But not as much as even 5 years ago. So that is a blessing.

Textures, sounds, tastes are often so hard for a child with SPD. The way I've been trained in it: imagine if you had sandpaper being rubbed on your tongue. Kids with SPD can be so sensitive in their perception of textures that it can feel like that for them! Smells can be so hard. The psychiatrist's daughter would leave the room suddenly. They couldn't figure out why. They finally when she got old enough and they had learned enough were able to identify that there was a faint smell they couldn't pick up but that was driving her nuts and she had to get away.

So with food, all three--taste, touch, smell--are involved. And kids with SPD are often very picky eaters. Today, now that we know of the disorder, I am much more careful to not try to just force foods on kids without testing for SPD when there are indications such problems may be present. And your grandson seems like a candidate for testing.

So, here is the SPD Foundation's directory:

I'd like you to focus on "mental health professional" and doctor first because we're concerned about getting a proper evaluation to make sure we're on the right track toward helping your little boy. I very much hope there's someone in your area.

Also, Google "sensory integration processing {name of your city or metro area}" and look for any clinic that might be there (cover both terms). If all you can find are physical therapists and OTs , start with them. They will probably know psychologists and physicians they can refer you to.

Okay, I wish you the very best!

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