Our foster son was diagnosed with ASD at the age of 3 years. When he was 3 1/2, he was taken into foster care and placed with us because of his mother's physical and mental health issues. She has since passed away. He is now 12 years old. He has come a long way with his autism and is a loving, verbal boy who interacts well with adults and children for the most part. He attends a regular public school with full-time support of an educational assistant in the classroom.
Over the past two years approximately, he has developed an issue with diapers and underwear. He will find a diaper (new or used) and urinate in it, sometimes leaving it in the bathroom, other times hiding it somewhere. He does the same thing with underwear - his own or other people's, especially that of younger children. He sometimes puts on 5 or 6 pair of his own undershorts at a time - and sometimes urinates in them, or not - just seems to like the way it feels to wear multiple pairs at once. We have grandchildren and have also had younger foster children in our home, so he has access to diapers and underwear. He feels bad when this happens and usually tells me about it when we are going through our bedtime routine. He is confused about this behaviour and angry with himself for doing it and that he cannot control it. We have talked about what he can do if he feels the urge - get busy with another activity, come and talk to me, etc. When the urge hits, it seems to overpower all reason. The incidents often occur when our routine is disrupted or there is stress of some kind - for example, it happened several times before, during and after a recent trip out of the country.
I am wondering if counselling would help. Could this behaviour possibly be related to neglect experienced in his baby years? Any insight on the reasons for this fixation and strategies for addressing it would be welcome.
There are certainly a number of issues with the way he is developing. A combination of some cognitive-behavioral therapy for him and some parent guidance for you may well make a difference. The sorts of behaviors you describe are often a result of inadequate parenting during the early years. Inadequate parenting results in children who feel vulnerable and insecure and who do not have solid attachments to others.
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