Feeling Full

With the upcoming holidays, this has been on my mind lately.

I have never been the type of person to overeat on Thanksgiving. I eat on Thanksgiving the same way that I eat every other day of the year. I eat until I’m just satisfied. I enjoy Thanksgiving and the food and everything, but I just can’t stand the feeling of being full.

I don’t like feeling like there’s food in my stomach. It is uncomfortable. On the other hand, I also hate feeling hungry… which means I pretty much have to eat all the time to make up for it.

In general I probably eat about 7 times a day. (I used to eat more often, but since I work for 8 hours a day I don’t generally eat more than once during that time, but on weekends I probably eat about 10 times a day.) I usually eat less than most people at regular meals and then eat snacks and mini meals throughout the rest of the day. Sometimes it seems like I hardly ever stop eating.

The most unhealthy part of not liking feeling full is that I have a hard time drinking much water. I can’t handle very much water in my stomach at one time. Water just gives me such an uncomfortable feeling, especially if I drink it on an empty stomach. And because I don’t drink much water I tend to have some problems because of that.

I think that may be one reason why people with autism may have more digestive problems than others. Water is just hard to handle sometimes. I’m working on getting better about drinking water though and I’m hoping it’ll help.

Bathrooms

This is a post that I’ve been debating on writing for a while. I know that it’s probably necessary and very informational, but it’s not something people talk about very often. Hopefully you’ll learn something from this post though that helps you in some way. If so, then it was worth writing this.

Why using bathrooms may be hard for someone with autism:

1. It is a social situation.

2. It is a high sensory environment.

3. It is a germ-filled environment.

  1.  Bathrooms are social environments. Whether you are at home using the bathroom or at work or at a park, if anyone else is in the vicinity, using the bathroom necessitates social navigation. If there is only one stall or toilet in the bathroom, there could be people waiting to use it after you. If there are multiple stalls, then there’s the added pressure of choosing a stall and the socializing that may happen with the other people in the same bathroom area.
    • If someone is waiting to use the bathroom, you have to decide what is a socially acceptable amount of time to take in the bathroom. If someone sees you go into the bathroom or knows you are in the bathroom, you still have to decide what is socially acceptable only without the added pressure of knowing they are waiting just outside the door.
    • If you are using a bathroom with multiple stalls, you have to decide what is an appropriate stall distance. Is it appropriate to take the next available stall or to leave a stall empty in between the one in use?
    • If you’re with someone, are they the type of person that tries to talk to you while you are using the toilet or do they like to converse while washing their hands? If you’re waiting for a stall, is it appropriate to have the same conversations you would have outside of a restroom or are there conversations that are inappropriate for bathroom areas?
  2. Bathrooms bombard your senses.
    • Bathrooms are often either the brightest or the dimmest places in a building. Most bathrooms either have multiple lights or have large LED ceiling lights. If the bathrooms aren’t well maintained, some of the lights may not be working, making it very dim.
    • Bathrooms tend to be very loud. There’s the noise of toilets flushing, water running, shoes walking on tile, toilet paper unrolling and tearing, the door opening and closing, and then any noise that people in the bathroom are making. The sounds in bathrooms are often also magnified because the walls and tile tend to echo the noises inside the bathroom.
    • Bathrooms can often have strong smells associated with them. Sometimes these are the smells of cleaning materials or air freshener. Sometimes it’s the smell of feces or urine or mold. Sometimes it’s the smell of people that used or are currently using the bathroom. Sometimes it’s simply the smell of water or the walls.
    • Bathrooms are usually small, enclosed areas and so everything is very close together and can seem even more sensory invading because of that.
    • Then of course, is your own use of the bathroom. Whether you are using the toilet or washing your hands or taking a shower, these are all incredibly strong sensory experiences in and of themselves.
  3. Bathrooms are full of germs. They may not have as many germs as your kitchen sink because they’re not dealing with raw meat, but they’re still pretty germ-filled.
    • If you have a problem with the feeling of dirt or grime on your hands, then using the bathroom makes you want to scrub your hands for an inordinate amount of time sometimes.

So what can you do if your child has a hard time using the restroom?

  1. Emphasize that waiting to use the bathroom makes the problem worse. By not using the restroom when needed, you can cause constipation or make current constipation worse.
  2. Provide social skills and guidelines for restroom etiquette, how to respond if someone attempts to talk to you in the restroom, and how long is appropriate to stay in the bathroom and where/ when those guidelines apply.
  3. Normalize the use of the restroom. If kids see the bathroom as an anomaly or a nuisance, they’re less likely to want to use it when needed.

A Hot Sauce Addict

I am a notoriously picky eater. I have a lot of foods that I don’t like mostly because of texture, but sometimes because of taste. There are few foods that I really love and could eat all the time. Pizza is one of them. And I generally despise condiments. I enjoy barbecue sauce and teriyaki sauce, but I can’t eat ketchup or mayonnaise or any salad dressing. The one thing that I am really addicted to though is hot sauce, well mostly Tapatio sauce. I could practically drink that stuff.

The problem is that I have GERD so I can’t really have foods that are acidic or spicy. Hot sauce though is one of the few things that seems to wake up my senses and help me forget about the world. If I’m having a rough day or just feeling a little down, I can eat some hot sauce with a couple chips and it makes me feel so alive. I know it’s not good for me and will probably give me abdominal pain later, but the sense of feeling something so powerfully draws me to it anyway.

Is there anything that wakes up your senses and makes you feel alive?

I’m participating in a Sensory Blog hop for this post. If you would like to read more sensory specific stories, please click on the little frog to see the other participating blogs.