SPD and abdominal pain/constipation

by Brooke

I don't know if my son has SPD,he has some of the symptoms. I was wondering if anyone out there who has a definite spd diagnosis can tell me if your child had/has trouble with abdominal pain/gas/constipation, more than the usual kid does.

My son is 17 months old and since the day he was born has a lot of trouble with the above symptoms, so much that he won't be able to sleep at night b/c of them. He wakes up 4-5 times a night. He seems extra sensitive to belly/colon pain/gas/pooping. So far all medical reasons have been ruled out. I wonder if he could feeling pain/discomfort that other people would not normally feel? I have also looked into visceral hypersensitivity as a possible reason. However, most doctors don't seem to take us seriously.

Please let me know if you have had any similar issues! Thank you!

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Jan 29, 2016
Could be IBS brought on by anxiety
by: Anonymous

I am a mother of a five year old child with SPD (seeks tactile and proprioceptive input). He does not seem to have any food allergy or abnormal intolerance of things such as gluten. With any child, an excess or lack of proper nutrition can cause a whole host of problems. Other than ensuring he is given protein at every meal, we generally keep all things in moderation for him.

I began the protein rich diet when he was nearly three. At first, I wondered if he were hypoglycemic since he would seem to crash and feel pain unless given his favorite protein bar (Zone bars). All blood tests returned normal. It wasn't until he was five that I discovered the correlation between oral and proprioceptive senses. He relaxed because they were chewy. Therefore, the chewy bar has become part of his "sensory toolbox."

What brought me to your question though, was because of a nagging question I had about our family history. Simply, SPD is "new" and both myself and siblings never had the opportunity to be tested for it. We had "quirks," strange ones and our kids have the similar things (they have legitimate SPD diagnosis). I cannot abide noise (or specifically, more than one noise at once). It becomes painful and causes severe abdominal discomfort that will escalate into something like a flu bug. I learned through the years my own version of a sensory diet to adapt. I press myself against a wall and breathe deeply. I relax. If it doesn't work, I leave the area and sadly, do have to be alone...if you get my drift. So, some of the gastro problems you are describing may be a nervous attack brought on by overstimulation. Studies do show a correlation between IBS and nerves. Talk to your OT about a "tool box" of solutions that your child can take anywhere and what a healthy sensory diet is. I suppose I mean...get him sensory healthy BEFORE he is exposed to the stimulation and the symptoms might lessen. I've taught my son the same thing and it works very well. We use the "Zones of Regulation" too to communicate quickly through the crisis' . Thought I'd throw that in there b/c it's so, so, so helpful! Life changing, I'd say.

Hang in there! It's worth it! (BTW...my "tactile" issues have given me a wonderful career as an artist...I count it an advantage in this world and my son...AMAZING Lego builder and the best "nest" constructor ever!")

Jan 11, 2012
Our son had gastro-pain, too.
by: Sara Ann, Missouri

Hi Brooke,

My son was diagnosed with SPD at age 4 and Asperger's at age 8. He had severe sensory issues as well as many gastro-problems and chronic gastro-pain. We put him on the Gluten Free/Dairy Free diet after the Asperger's diagnosis. He dramatically improved over the next several months. It was like once he was out of gastro-pain, his nervous system finally calmed down and started working properly.

The diet does not work for every child. Our dietician warned us ahead of time that she's seen kids with the exact same set of problems try the diet; one will improve and the other not have any results. If you do the diet, do your research for a few months ahead of time and plan how you will implement it so that you feel confident you know what you're doing going into the trial. This will also help you keep the costs down. Then, once you start the diet, chart your child's progress. If you don't see any improvement after two months, then there is no need to continue, but it is definitely worth a try to see if this is at the root of your son's problems.

For us, it was very hard to implement the first few months, but once his gastro-pain/SPD/Autism symptoms started to disappear, we discovered that the diet is much easier to live with than SPD/Autism symptoms. Our son is in middle school now (age 13). He's easily handles his locker and complicated class schedule. He is now on A honor roll and just got the role of Rooster in Annie where he will endure costume changes, make-up application, a microphone taped to his face, and even dancing on stage. If you had asked me when he was five, would he ever be able to dance? I would have laughed at you. He was in OT,PT, and ST, but making very slow progress and every few months we would realize he was missing more motor milestones that we'd have to add to his therapies. Now he's excelling.

I must also say that even after the diet, we continued with some of his therapies, but it was like walking/progressing continually forward instead of one step forward, two steps back. You know, kids who break their arms, need OT. It was like before the diet, he was continually in need of therapy b/c his "arm was continually breaking". Afterward, his therapies were just patching up remaining damage. After six months, he no longer needed OT or PT. He remains in ST only for pragmatic speech therapy and his speech therapist can tell me without asking if he's accidentally gotten a tiny bit of gluten b/c our son loses concentration and verbal skills and it takes about a week to regain them. In general, within those first 3 months, we noticed that he began meeting new milestones with the rest of his class. With his sensory system calmed down he was able to tackle everything in his life with enthusiasm and energy.

Again, the diet doesn't work for all kids, but it is definitely worth a good try after you research it thoroughly.

Sincerely, Sara Ann

Dec 10, 2011
Think "gluten and casein intolerance"
by: Anonymous

Hi! Constipation, loose bowels, digestive issues, and skin problems such as eczema are often caused by gluten and/or casein intolerance. Gluten is found in grains, and casein is found in milk, cheese, and yogurt. Soy is often not tolerated when someone has casein intolerance because the soy protein is similar to casein, the milk protein.

Run, do not walk, to a bookstore, online or brick and mortar, to get nutritionist Kelly Dorfman's book What's Eating Your Child? She explains why these intolerances exist, the symptoms, and what to do.

Once you've fixed things up nutritionally, then you can see what is "left over." If pooping is painful, you can see how a child would be anxious about toilets, for instance. Eliminate the pain and it's easier to deal with toilet anxiety.


Aug 24, 2011
Ten yr old with constipation
by: Isabel

I am so glad i found this web site. My son, ten, has had problems with constipation for years now. We knew something was not right when he started soiling himself. Sometimes it would be down his leg. Now that he is older he tries harder to recognize the signs. This tough for him because his muscles have all relaxed. Some poop is always coming out days before a movement. This causes him to not wipe properly as well. He has had such bad rash that it is hard for him to walk and there are red, puffy, spots. I always tell him to put zinc cream on for it and to prevent it. He doesn't always do it though. By the way he is diagnosed with Adhd, a Learning Disability and anxiety. I believe he has mild SPD as well. thanks for a very good website

Apr 19, 2011
by: AJ

I have a 5 year old son who was a very difficult baby and I was a first time mother. Oh how I wish I knew what I know now, during those first 2-3 years of his life. It would have been so much easier for everyone.

My son does have an SPD diagnosis, although I'm not one to get hung up on labels because I believe they are not an indication or a prediction of much. A label is just a way of putting a name to symptoms and issues that are happening. That said, my son was extremely difficult as a baby. Low immunity, often sick, reactions to vaccines, cried through the night many many nights, didn't have a formed bowel movement until he was almost 3 and had lots of tummy aches and gas and constipation. That's been my experience with him and he does have SPD.

Does your child have an SPD diagnosis? I did a lot of reading about SPD and tummy issues and illnesses etc. And I made some personal decisions to spread out vaccines and only give one at a time. I also put my son on digestive enzymes and a stool softening medication when needed or used suppositories when he was constipated. With SPD many children can be overly sensitive in ways that other children are not, so their pain tolerance can be quite low.

A few things you may want to read about are leaky gut, lactose intolerance, celiac and probiotics. Many of these things can be common in children with SPD and autism. My son takes a probiotic tablet every day which has helped his immunity and helped with tummy issues because it replenishes the good flora in the intestines.

Anyway, hope something here was helpful. It can be so difficult to know what to do for our children when they are in distress or pain. Keep plugging away for answers and ways to help him. And follow your mother's intuition always. :)

Good luck.

Apr 07, 2011
by: Anonymous

My 10 yr old son was not bowel trained until he was 8. He is HFA with sensory issues. We took him to have bio feedback to train his tummy muscles and bottom on how to recognize pooping. Delays can be common in kids with SPD.

Constipation is common in kids with autism as well.


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