Ableism Autism Spectrum Difficulties Sensory Issues Sensory Related

#SensoryIssues: #Interoception – #Toileting

Disclaimer: As far as I’m aware, I had no issues with toilet training.

So, a few weeks ago, I saw a comment somewhere (I no longer remember where, but it may have been Twitter) that essentially claimed that the only reason autistics might have trouble with toileting issues is low intelligence (note I didn’t say “IQ”). This is my response.

As we know now, most – if not all – autistics have trouble with sensory issues; sensory issues that when unaccompanied by other elements are diagnosable (in North America) as Sensory Perception Disorder, or SPD. Those difficulties can be summed up in three parts: hypersensitivity (overly sensitive to stimuli); hyposensitivity (very not sensitive to stimuli); and sensory seeking (seeking out certain sensory stimuli). Note that sometimes hyposensitivity and sensory seeking end up focused on the same form of stimulus, and one seeks out that form of sensory stimulus because one is hyposensitive to it.

As we also know, there are more senses than just the commonly known five (sight, hearing, taste, touch, and smell); there’s:

  • proprioception: feedback from soft tissue re where the parts of your body are in relation to one another and in space;
  • vestibular: sense of balance and of forces acting on your body (gravity, “G-force” of acceleration, etc.);
  • interoception: feedback from organs and also pain sense.

The one we care about for this particular topic is interoception, which is the sense that tells us things like feeling pain, feeling hungry, feeling thirsty, feeling cold or hot, feeling unwell, etc – including feeling the need to use the toilet.

So, what happens when someone is hyposensitive to interoception, particularly the interoceptive signals that tell them they need to go use the toilet?

They’re going to have toileting issues that have absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with their intelligence, because their bodies are effectively not telling them that they need to do this.

Now yes, intelligence issues can come into play in terms of finding workarounds – like, say, going to the washroom every two hours or so, just in case – but the fact remains that if your body isn’t telling you that you need to go do something, you’re not going to have any reason to go do it.

So, there we go.


🙂 tagÂûght

By tagÂûght

I’m in my mid-thirties. I’ve lived in Canada all my life (Toronto and St. John’s), but I’ve travelled to Florida, Massachusetts, England, Wales, Ireland, Scotland, and Costa Rica. I love airplane travel (as long as there are no noisy kids around me!). I’m proud to be Canadian (though Harper might end up changing that!).

I have ASD, aka Autism Spectrum Disorder. Strictly speaking, I’ve been diagnosed as having Aspergers, but (for Canada and the US, at least) that diagnosis is going to be melded with ASD as of May, with the publication of DSM V. Having ASD, and the job I do at the moment (see First Post), is why reading the blogs I mentioned above inspired me to start one of my own about my life in general.

Back in October, I got my driver’s license (as opposed to driving permit for learners) – after twenty years of effort and trying. A lot of thanks is due to my instructor, who has dealt with people with ASD before, and so knew how to teach me for the test (I was able to drive before, just not pass the test, due to anxiety and problems with multi-tasking).

I’m a fanatic writer of SF and Fantasy, both fanfiction and original, and I devour books as well.

I love animals, in particular cats, and I have a fascination with wolves, wild cats (including the big cats), orcas, and the physiology of cephalopods.

I love the wilderness – though I don’t really have the endurance (at the moment, at least) to go hiking or camping out.

And, rather importantly, I’m not someone who thinks about political correctness when it comes to vocabulary. I use what seems right when it seems right. That will include calling myself a person with ASD, or an Autistic, or an Aspie. I’m me; I can call myself what I want.

So, enough about me. Go read my posts – they’re more informative!

3 replies on “#SensoryIssues: #Interoception – #Toileting”

Sorry I’m so late with this comment, but I wanted to say you are absolutely on the mark. My brilliant autistic daughter has actually been able to articulate this for me, so that I understand when she suddenly has to go RIGHT THIS MINUTE. It’s because she doesn’t feel the pressure building on her bladder until it’s really, really bad.
She worked out for herself as a young kid that going to the bathroom about once an hour prevented her from having accidents, but it was certainly not because she “felt the need.” I am so angry with people who associate being able to eliminate waste in a “socially acceptable” way with intelligence.

Thank you for your comment! I have to admit, that until you commented, this was more hypothetical on my part (based on experience with my own hyposensitivities) than known reality.

Kudos to your daughter for being able to work out a coping plan, and it’s wonderful she’s able to explain it to you.

🙂 tagÂûght

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