Question:

This is a first for me! I an occupational therapist working with a preschooler who is eating his feces. I have had students in the past who would smear or play in feces but never one that would actually eat it. Any advice would be helpful!

Answer:

YUCK! I remember reading an article at one time that considered feces consumption to be a variant of pica and associated with mental illness. I can’t locate that particular article right now but here are a couple from the National Center for Biotechnology Information/PubMed Central® that seem to agree. The second one addresses intervention from a behavioral standpoint:

  1. Entomophagy and Coprophagy in Undifferentiated Schizophrenia
  2. Functional Analysis and Treatment of Coprophagia

From a sensory standpoint, eating feces is a very intense sensory experience! But the only way I would consider this to be primarily a sensory issue would be if the child seeks out only very intense tastes in general (very spicy foods, very stinky foods, etc.). This behavior seems to be more in line with trichotillomania (hair pulling, skin picking), which is best addressed from a cognitive-behavioral/mental health standpoint. So I would recommend conducting a functional behavior assessment and setting up a behavior plan based on the results.

I hope this helps!

Best wishes!
Gwen