Who would have thought that poop would loom so large in our lives?

It’s such a natural thing. You eat, you poop, you sleep.

Well, one out of three ain’t bad. Actually, no — it is bad. Yet another example of autism being counter intuitive.

Many children with autism have gut issues. Joseph’s is constipation. It was there from day one. At an infant check-up I remember asking our pediatrician if I should be concerned that Joseph appeared to struggle a lot, and only managed to poop about every two weeks. She assured me that this was fine — nothing to worry about.

Note to self: do not trust your doctor.

On the other hand, we owe this doctor some thanks. It was more of her “advice” that got us to our first biomedical doctor. When Joseph was around 2 1/2, I went to see her with my worries about his constipation. I told her how hard I work — with figs, prune juice, smooth move tea — just to make sure he goes every few days. Not to worry, she said. Once a week is often enough.

So I relaxed. And Joseph didn’t poop.

Within a couple of weeks he was spending most of his time on the floor, knees tucked under his belly. He’d look up every now and then, smiling as usual, and then he’d fold over into what I assume (now) was a tummy cramp.

We started to get really worried. He dragged himself around like his body was too heavy to manage. He was cranky. He slept more horribly than usual. His eyes glazed over.

Our RDI consultant said, Go see a biomedical doctor! Now!

So we called one in the San Francisco area and managed to make it in on someone’s cancellation within a relatively short time.

The doctor examined Joseph and said, “This is a very sick boy you have here.”

From that day on, we were committed to having this kid poop.

First of all, why didn’t he poop? I think it was a combination of things: gut issues (things just didn’t work well in there), food allergies messing things up and, lastly, a resistance to the actual feeling of pooping. We’d watch him get this look on his face and then he’d cry out, “No! No!”

He was stopping the poop.

Fiber became a household word. We knew the fiber content of everything he ate. Lots of water. Lots of exercise.

Three months went by. Still things weren’t moving well. The doctor said, Let him have enemas!

Oy. For a year we did enemas, pretty much every other day. Joseph hated them. We hated them. They were traumatic all around.

But, darn it, they did the trick.

S-l-o-w-l-y things got better. After being gluten and casein free for two years, things started to do what they were supposed to do. Joseph began to get over his reluctance to that poopy feeling. Other doctors and healthcare practitioners jumped in with other great ideas. A star chart worked well because, after 5 poops and the 5 resulting stars, he got to pick out a new toy.

And now, ladies and gentlemen! He poops every day, often twice a day! Usually at his own initiative!

Our naturopath, Dr. Glen, tells us that, just as a sick person will go on a downward spiral, so too a person who is healing will go on an upward spiral. And we see this with Joseph. Everything is getting better: sleep, poop, vocabulary, social skills (a little!), imagination, and more.

It is great to be going in the right direction.

Poop still looms large in our lives, but we are all starting to lose the trauma around it. It seems that, as far as Joseph goes, poop happens.