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Q&A: Playing in Feces?


I have a 2-year-old child on my caseload who recently began playing in and smearing her feces. I have already implemented a sensory diet to address previous concerns, including deep pressure and proprioceptive input. Do you have any other suggestions?


I don’t think I have any magic for you on this behavior. Feces smearing provides very intense tactile and olfactory input. It is hard to find substitution strategies that offer this intensity. I usually recommend inhibiting access by putting a snap onesie on the child and using footed, zip-up pajamas. For clever kids, some parents cut off the feet and put the PJs on backwards so the child can’t get to the zipper. The child will be more willing to use the sensory strategies you offer if we can successfully take away the ability to access the feces.

Please keep me posted if you find something that works.

Best wishes,