If you have a child with Angelman Syndrome, poop party may be a term you’re familiar with. They’re an unpleasant part of raising a child with a severe disability.
Since poop isn’t typically a socially acceptable discussion, there’s not a ton of information on dealing with these poop parties. So, I wanted to throw back the curtain and share our personal experiences with poop parties, plus share some tips for dealing with them.
So, this post is not for the faint of heart. If you’re queasy hearing about poop and cleaning it up, here are some nice safe posts about Angelman Syndrome for you to go read:
What Is a Poop Party?
Alight, now that people with weak stomachs have left the screen, let’s get down to business.
First, let’s start by defining the term. What exactly is a poop party?
It’s when someone poops. And then they play in it. They could smear it on their body, or on their surroundings. They may eat it.
And while the person smearing the poop may be having fun, it’s definitely not a party for the people who have to clean it up.
Why Do Poop Parties Happen?
Playing in poop is often associated with small children. A couple of my kids had a single poop party when they were small.
I think for them, they were exploring the world around them. The poop was there and they didn’t know any better.
For those kids of mine, they quickly learned that poop was gross. And they didn’t play in it again.
But for my child with Angelman Syndrome, poop doesn’t seem to have the same negativity. He seems to truly not mind the smell, the texture, or the nastiness associated with poop.
Thankfully, he doesn’t always have poop parties. In fact, they seem to come and go in spurts. I have a theory that the less seizure control he has, the more poop parties he has, but it’s just something I’ve noticed as his mom. No scientific data backs this up.
Obviously, poop has to be in the diaper before a poop party happens. When my son has well controlled seizures, I can almost always tell when he needs to poop. Then I take him to the potty to do his business.
But, when he’s having a lot of seizures, it’s like he’s a different person. I can’t read his body signs as well. And I miss the signs that he needs to go.
So, since he poops more in his diaper when he’s having seizures, that could be the connection.
But I digress…Poop in a diaper, with clothing that allows access to the diaper, and time are all needed for a poop party.
This means they tend to happen in our house:
- At night (when everyone is sleeping and he’s bored and awake in his bed)
- During Quiet Time (when everyone is doing their own thing and he’s chilling in his bedroom)
- In the crazy morning hours when everyone is working on chores and he’s chilling in the living room
- Before we go anywhere, when he’s chilling and we’re busy getting shoes and coats on little people and making sure faces are clean and all that stuff…
Chilling seems to be a necessary ingredient for poop parties!
As does the rest of us being focused on other activities. When he’s engaged with an activity or playing with a sibling, poop parties don’t really happen.
Signs of a Poop Party
The smell is the first sign we usually have that something is amiss. When the kids start sniffing the air and trying to figure out who cut a big one…my first instinct is always to look at my boy with Angelman Syndrome.
Poop under the nails, or visibly smeared elsewhere is another sign.
Or a big pile of poop on the floor.
Those aren’t things you want to see, but they do mean it’s time to put an end to the Angelman Syndrome poop party fun.
What Works to Clean Up an Angelman Syndrome Poop Party
Once a poop party has been identified, here are the steps we take to clean it all up.
First, I take a deep breathe and whisper a prayer for patience. Cleaning up the poop of a teenaged child isn’t the same as cleaning up toddler poop. Even though you know that because of the Angelman Syndrome he probably doesn’t know better, part of you still goes – you’re this old and wiping poop everywhere? That’s nasty!
So a prayer for patience and understanding is key for me.
Then, I take my son to the bathroom and let him finish his business. On our way, I yell for the older kids to make sure none of the little guys go into the gross zone. Because two kids covered in one person’s poop is even grosser…
After the business is done, I use baby wipes for an initial clean. They aren’t going to get him actually clean, but they do a good job of getting the first layer of poop off.
Once the worst of it is off, I put him into the tub. I leave the drain unplugged so he doesn’t wind up sitting in poopy water, and I let him play in the water a bit while I get the mess contained.
I go back to the poop zone and use the following system:
- Put on a pair of nitrile gloves (I always keep a box under out bathroom sink so I’m prepared!)
- Gather anything that can be washed and put it in the laundry room (preferably I have another child empty the machine and toss it straight in!)
- Use Clorox wipes or spray to spray the floor or any toys
- Spray Nature’s Miracle on any furniture or rugs
- Give the area a general cleaning
- Spray Lysol on anything I think needs disinfected
There is a time and a place for using natural cleaners. When you’re dealing with poop, it’s not one of those times! Bring out the Clorox!!!
Once the mess is clean, I gather my son’s clothes from the bathroom and get the washer started. OxiClean is a must when you’re washing poopy clothes! The odor remover kind of OxiClean is awesome!
Then I tackle my son. He’s typically been happily playing in the water while I clean. The remaining poop has typically been rinsed off, so I shut the water off and let everything drain. Then, I start filling the tub with clean water.
I use Gillette body wash, as the strong smell really helps cut through the poop. On his head, I just use a Suave Naturals shampoo.
It usually takes two or three washings before he starts to smell okay again. More if he’s had more time in the poop (like if he had a poop party overnight), and fewer times if I caught him early.
I keep an inexpensive nail brush in the bathroom that I use when dealing with a poop party. It’s great for getting poop out from underneath his nails. Since it doesn’t cost that much, I don’t mind tossing it after dealing with poop.
After he’s clean, I take him out of the tub and get him dressed. The smell of poop often lingers a bit, even after all the washings, but time does make it go away.
Then I go and take a shower to make sure I don’t have any poop on me. Ew!
After that, I breathe a sigh of relief and rest a bit. Poop parties are a lot of work!
Preventing Poop Parties
When my son is in poop party mode, I’ve tried many different things to prevent him from getting his hands in his diapers. The best solution has been pajamas that zip in the back. But, these get expensive trying to keep him in them all day, as they are thin fabric and he breaks the knees out from crawling after only a couple of weeks. They are meant for night wear, not active during the day play time.
They are also a pain to put on. He’s getting to be big, and trying to wrestle him into these pajamas isn’t easy.
But, my son has worn these for weeks at a time. It’s helped get the idea of poop parties being fun out of his mind. Then we move to regular one-piece pajamas. Then we go back to clothes.
Making sure he’s got engaging toys or company also helps to a certain degree. But, this is harder in the middle of the night.
Unfortunately, I haven’t discovered a sure way to prevent poop parties on a long-term basis. So, we just deal with them when they come.
The Bad Parts About Poop Parties
Poop is pretty bad. And cleaning it up stinks.
But, that’s not the worst part about poop parties (at least in my opinion!)
The isolation that they cause is.
It’s not something you can talk to your friends about really. They don’t get it, and you truly don’t want them to.
But, you never know when a poop party may strike. And you fear leaving your child with others in case it does. Because as much as you hate cleaning up poop, you hate even more the idea of someone else having to do it…
Are You An Angelman Syndrome Parent or Caregiver Dealing with a Poop Party?
Do you have any tips or tricks to add?
And know that you aren’t alone – there are other kids doing this exact same thing. It’s gross, but it’s also a comfort to know that it’s not just your child. You are not a bad parent because your child with Angelman Syndrome has poop parties. It happens.
Clean it up, move on, and give your kid a hug. That smile definitely helps!