Autism Awareness Week

Bowel Disorders & Autism

Autism Awareness Week – Bowel Disorders & Autism

This week is Autism Awareness Week and we have been speaking to Louise Fields and her 7-year old son Ryan who was diagnosed with autism aged 3-years old. As well as ASD, Ryan has suffered with constant bowel issues including chronic constipation and has had a gastrostomy tube to help help him cope with his condition.

Louise, thank you so much for talking to the Bladder and Bowel Community about Ryan’s condition.

Tell me a little about how Ryan’s autism was diagnosed, were there any initial signs that lead you to thinking that Ryan had ASD?

There were quite a few triggers that made us believe that there was something different with Ryan, such as lining things up, talking at a very early age, obsessions, meltdowns, sensitive to noise, lack of social interaction, rolling his eyes into the back of his head and flapping his arms and tensing his legs. He was diagnosed at the age of 3 by a paediatrician at Walsall Child Development Centre, following a 6-week investigation.

ASD has now been closely linked to bladder and bowel issues. Did Ryan always suffer from bowel issues or did this develop after his diagnosis?

Ryan has always had issues with constipation ever since he was born. He used to go for days without passing any bowel movements, but as he got older he started to go for weeks without going to the toilet (7-weeks is the longest length of time), which causes him to become impacted. His consultant believes the constipation is down to his autism as some children with autism don’t drink enough fluids, and unfortunately Ryan is one of them.

How does Ryan’s chronic constipation affect him on a daily basis?

It affects him quite severely as he doesn’t have full control of his bowel, he has to have high doses of laxatives, which is now administered through a gastrostomy tube. Due to the amount of laxatives he has to take, he doesn’t pass anything solid, so at 7-years of age he is still wearing pull ups.

Does Ryan’s condition ever affect him at school?

Yes, as he has to be taken out of class regularly to have his pull ups changed. If he gets impacted he has to have time off school (used to be in hospital for at least a week) but now we manage at home through his gastrostomy tube. He also has to be medicated every day at school. He has also been picked on because of wearing pull ups

Does Ryan’s condition affect your family life?

Yes, we constantly have to change his pull ups. Bed sheets and covers are washed daily due to accidents in the night. If we go out as a family we have to take a packed bag with pull ups, wipes, spare clothes, medication, emergency kit for his tube.

Tell us a little about Ryan’s gastrostomy surgery? How does his gastrostomy help with his chronic constipation?

Ryan has had the gastrostomy tube for a year now. It was fitted via a surgical procedure under general anaesthetic. The surgery was completed by keyhole and lasted two hours. The procedure consisted of inserting a hole into Ryan’s stomach and fitting a tube into the hole to allow medication to be passed through the tube and into his stomach. The tube helps as due to his autism we had great issues getting Ryan to take medication orally as he doesn’t like anything sticky. His consultant decided it would be in Ryan’s best interest to have the gastrostomy in order to continue to medicate him.

Louise is proudly raising awareness for Autism Awareness week and you can find out more about autism through