“Is it true your child can’t really smell or feel that he/she had an accident?”

For the parents of children with encopresis (enco for short), the debate about whether to believe if your child can or cannot feel or smell him/herself is tricky. Do you believe your child is telling the truth, that he or she can NOT physically tell if had an “accident” or smell…or is it just denial? I have read in some websites (in my research for my book) of parents taking their kids to see a psychologist about it, to come back without a solid result. “Your child is normal”…and yet, still soils. Why do we soil? Why do we say we can’t feel or smell it when everyone else says we do??

As an encopresis survivor, I can definitely verify that if your child says he/she can’t smell or feel it or “hasn’t had an accident”…for us, it is the truth. Whenever my parents could smell me and ask if I had done it, and I said no, to check my pants and find out I did…I was accused of lying. “If you know it’s wrong why do you keep doing it?” the screaming mantra of my life, at me, over and over again. Crying each time saying “I don’t know”…because I do NOT know why. I couldn’t feel I had an accident (rarely if I did), coudn’t smell myself either, so far as I knew nothing had happened. Simple as that. It’s not denial and it’s not lying…for me, and others like me with enco, this is the truth. A truth that was punishable. Why do parents teach their children to not lie, and yell and scream at them when they tell the truth…with enco??

This not knowing has been that bad that I had not only school kids tease and bully me saying I smell (for hours), but a school teacher put me in a separate classroom!! Ostracising your child because of a body mal-function isn’t fair. No matter how many times I would cry and appologise and say sorry to my mum for soiling, the constant mantra was “Sorry isn’t good enough”. If sorry isn’t good enough, then what is? What is good enough? Why can’t being your daughter be “good enough”?

There has been research done to verify that due to the nature of encopresis, the hardened stool can accumulate within the intestinal tract that it eventually stretches the wall, numbing the nerve senses. It would be stretched so much that to be able to actually “feel” the need to go would mean the stool has to be physically huge to reach it. And that’s painful, really painful. Some tests indicate that as one is so used to the smell that it becomes ignored. The smell receptors in the nose can’t smell what it should, unless it’s really strong. Why that is I don’t know…all I know is that, with enco this is what I had to deal with.

So to answer the question honestly, YES….it is true your child can’t smell or feel the accident. By the time we know we have done it, it’s already been done. Everyone else knows before we do. Sometimes the wives are the last person to find out about an extra marital affair….the child with enco is THE Last person to know about what’s happened. We aren’t mind readers and in this case, we especially aren’t body readers. This is my story…and I’m not alone.

9 thoughts on ““Is it true your child can’t really smell or feel that he/she had an accident?”

  1. Louise 03/04/2014 / 12:55 pm

    My grandson is going to high school next year and is still soiling his pants. He swears he doesn’t know why he does it and claims he can’t help it. He doesn’t live with me and his mother and I don’t get along so although I had him all the time when he was young, I rarely see him now. I just stress about this all the time. There seems to be no way to help him. I cry all the time over this. This poor child is going through hell with no relief in sight.

    • naturegirl015 03/04/2014 / 11:20 pm

      Hi Louise,

      I know how your grandson feels. I too wasn’t given any strong indication that I had soiled my underwear (or needed to go to the toilet or not), and no one believed me. Your grandson is telling you the truth based on what his body is telling him, or not telling him. Please believe him. There’s always a way to help him. Love him. Love him regardless of his Enco. There is light at the end of the tunnel. Life does and will be better.

      If you want to share your story in private, please don’t hesitate to e-mail me: naturegirl015admin@themagicwithinus.com

  2. Northern Mom 18/08/2012 / 8:00 pm

    My daughter is 8, and she too cannot feel it. However, when she doesn’t wear any clothes – she can get to the bathroom and poo on her own. I ask her why. She says that she can hear her body without clothes on, but when she is wearing clothes it only whispers, and she can’t hear it.
    I feel guilty because I have been like your mom – angry and upset. I feel bad for my daughter and I want to stop being like that – and help her. What do you suggest – or what would you have liked to have heard instead of the negativity? Thanks for your insight. I don’t want my daughter growing up to have a low self esteem because of me. 🙁

    • naturegirl015 18/08/2012 / 9:41 pm

      Hi Northern Mum,

      Thank you for reading and sharing your story. Although I didn’t experience the difference in hearing my body with or without clothes on like your daughter (but I’m sure there are other children who are similiar to your daughter in this way), I do find it intrigueing. For me I always relaxed when surrounded by warm water (including a bath, pool, spa/jacuzzi, and warm/hot drink). Maybe your daughter is similiar as she has found a environment that allows her (and her mind) to relax. Relaxed mind can help to relax the muscles including the schincter, bowels, intestines, anus, etc (and help to release stools). This is why reading books or something on the toilet helped me over the years (and still continue to do so). The problem with encopresis (a problem anyway) is that there are a wide variety of contributing factors and symptoms that different children show. What happened to me may or may not be how your child reacts, however as I have personally had encopresis and all the negaivity involved I do understand how your daughter feels and wishes people knew (if that makes sense). If you daughter says she can’t feel it, you have to believe her and not get angry. She doesn’t have that strong obvious feeling “normal” people have, so she’ll be like me and not know anything has happened until it’s too late. It’s not her fault and it certainly wasn’t mine (even though I was treated as if it was my fault).

      Some things I do suggest is to try as much as you can to be calm about the condition. If you treat it as a normal accident “don’t worry about it, it’s just an accident” or “accidents happen” (you know what I mean), by not making it such an issue it really helps. Yelling, punishing, etc only makes it worse (for her definitely, as well as you….and me at the time). My mum never believed me when I said I didn’t have an accident when asked (because for me without the urge to go and by not being able to smell myself, I didn’t have an accident to me..that was the truth as I saw it), and so I was punished for lying. Home should be where your daughter feels safe and you will protect her (she’ll get bullied at school because of it, or feel “different”), the last thing she’d want is to come home and get abused because you’re frustrated. I wished someone had believed me. I wish I had friends, real true friends. I wish I had a social life like everyone else, and a boyfriend (still do to be honest). Encopresis is a “why me?” dilemma your daughter will feel. She doesn’t want to make you angry, this isn’t HER choice. She never intended for this to happen. She truely loves you and wants you to understand and love her back. Tell her she’s ok, and you love her. Tell her what’s happening (or not happening) to her body, children can handle it if they’re told. She doesn’t know what’s going on and she won’t know how to stop it, but wishes with all her heart that she could. I know I did. Tell her she isn’t alone, there are other girls that have it. Read the poem “I am just a girl” (in MAY section…you’ll understand what it’s like).

      I’m here now writing my blog and my book for parents such as yourself so I can help your daughter (and other families too). I don’t want other kids to go through what I have been through. I never had anyone to talk to who soiled like I did. No celebrities or anyone to look up to. No one. I’m here now to be that person I wish I had. I’m here xx You can always e-mail me if you want to talk more. I hope that helps.

      • Northern Mom 18/08/2012 / 10:51 pm

        Thank you. I truly appreciate any advice to help us all get through this.

        • naturegirl015 19/08/2012 / 12:14 am

          You’re very welcome. I understand how difficult and frustrating it is for you and your family. You want what’s best for your daughter and don’t want to see her in unnecessary pain (physical and emotional). You are not a bad mum, just like mine, she’s not bad either. Give her a hug for me. If you have any suggestions or questions for my book I’d appreciate it too…anything you want to know. 🙂 I have videos on youtube (www.youtube.com/naturegirl015) of me in the local circus group and other things, so you can show your daughter and she can see someone that actually went through it too (and can do lots of things now). I’m on twitter too (@naturegirl015). xx

  3. Johnny 17/08/2012 / 7:28 am

    I still suffer with this and i hate it…everyday is a battle and i recently lost a girl i liked so much to this because other people found out and spread it around….its tough and i wanna give up but i know i wont…i hope

    • naturegirl015 18/08/2012 / 12:51 am

      I come from a small town where rumours spread like wildfire and your reputation is gone before you even have one. Constantly bullied and very very few friends. Lack of a social life and the confidence. Even after encopresis I was stil bullied at school. Home wasn’t any better for me with enco at the time, but is definitely better now. I’m sorry for your loss. Don’t give up!! Trust me, I’m here because of it. Not many encopresis survivors (as that’s what I call myself, a survivor) open up about it, and because of that people now including children suffer because no one speaks up for them. No one was there for me to look up to (especially no one on tv or anything that admits to having this). I felt so alone, because I was alone. I’m here if you need someone to talk to…..I understand.

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