Tuesday, 29 November 2016

'A BOY LIKE YOU' AND 'A GIRL LIKE YOU'

Type ‘soiling’ into Google’s search engine and you will get over 5 million results.  Outside of cyberspace, however, encopresis remains a topic that few people want to talk about and it never seems to be discussed on television.  I have stated before how when I was a boy I thought I was the only school aged child in the world who still pooed his pants.  Three years ago I got to wondering how many other children felt the same way and were miserable as a result.  I suspected that the answer was rather a lot.

I did a bit of research and found that, while there were picture books available for young children who soiled, there was nothing for the many older children with the same condition.  Also, while children’s writers such as Jacqueline Wilson had showed that a bedwetter, like Tracy Beaker, could be a heroine, there seemed to be no mainstream books in which the lead character was a child who pooed her pants.  It looked like there was no-one for the older child who had encopresis to identify with, no-one who shared their problem and could act as a role model.  I decided that it was time to turn my own experiences into something that could help the children of today.  It was time for a child who soiled to become a heroine!

The cover of the 
original book.
In 2014 I self-published A Child Like You, in both paperback and for the Kindle and Kindle apps.  I tried to make it realistic, but positive.  Beth, the lead character, has painful memories from when she first began soiling, but she is now able to manage her condition and is well on the way to becoming completely clean.  Her thoughts and feelings largely mirrored my own, although her experiences were also based on those of other children with encopresis, such as taking off her soiled pants and hiding them, which I never did.  Drama was provided when another girl smelt that Beth had messed herself in assembly and she feared that the whole class would soon know her embarrassing secret.

The reaction to the book was overwhelmingly positive.  Many children who soiled were delighted to read a book in which the lead character had the same problem as them, and could often identify with what was happening to Beth and how she was feeling, and several parents told me that their child did not want to put the book down or had read it multiple times. Some readers were amazed to find out that other kids had this condition, having previously believing that they were the only one. 

Parents themselves also found the book useful, both in understanding the problem from a child’s point of view and in helping to start a conversation with their son or daughter about their toilet issues.  Some parents even told me how it had encouraged their child to try to poo on the toilet and to change themselves after an accident. 

The only negative comment was from some mothers of boys who said they found it difficult, or impossible, to get their son to read a book in which the main character was a girl.  Although I knew that girls tended to be less resistant in reading a book with a male protagonist, I did not want to simply change Beth into a boy.  While they are outnumbered by their male peers, I know that there are a lot of girls who soil, and I did not want to deprive them of their heroine.  I also felt that for an issue as personal as toilet problems, children would better be able to identify with a fellow sufferer who was the same sex as themselves.

The new gender specific titles
offer the same story from the
perspective of both
a boy and a girl who soil.
The solution I decided was to split the book into two separate gender specific titles.  The result was A Boy Like You and A Girl Like You, which I published in April 2016.  In the new edition for boys, Beth has become Justin, but the story is the same with the sexes of all the child characters reversed.  I also took the opportunity to amend the original book, introducing some new material based on my conversations with parents, such as the belief that withholding poo makes it disappear, which was a misconception that I also had as a child, and altering some passages which I felt did not completely work in the original version. 

As with the original book, these new editions were endorsed by ERIC, the children’s bowel and bladder charity, who agreed to stock the paperback versions of the British Edition in their online shop.  An American Edition, in both paperback and on the Kindle, is also available.  The story is identical to the British version, but the vocabulary, spelling and phrasing of the American Edition has been adapted to make it familiar to North American readers.

The new versions have proved even more popular than the first book, parents with boys who soil being particularly grateful for a ‘boy friendly’ version, and I continue to receive favourable comments.  In my original blog I wrote that if just one child who soils his or her pants is helped by reading this book then it will have been well worth the effort to write it.  It has clearly done more than that and I am delighted that the new versions are continuing to help older children who have this terrible condition.  I make no money from them, but I am always thrilled when I hear from another parent telling me how reading one of these books has helped them and their child.

6 comments:

  1. I am so glad to hear the new boy/girl versions of the book are growing even more popular. Thanks for all you do for the Enco Community, James! You have helped more people than you'll ever know.

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    1. Thank you, Brianne, and thank you again for letting me know just how beneficial reading the original book was for you and your son.

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  2. now I am older I poo my pants I didn't know thatthis was a condition that children as well as adults have, sometimes it can be emarrassing as to how and when it will happen and when and where a toilet can be found quickly- this also is seen as a disability which means hat children as wel as adults should be able to get acces to a disabled toilet with a key. I have a key myself but often toilets can be too far to walk to in a town and sometimes public houses toilets are up stairs which also makes it difficult to get somewhere on time and waiting in a quese with thes sort of problems can be frustrating perhaps you do a book on granny or grandad pooing their pants. x lol

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    1. Hi, I'm sorry to hear that you are having problems. As I had so many years of toilet problems as a child, I'm hoping that I don't have similar issues at the other end of my life, but if I do start soiling myself as a pensioner I'll think about writing a book about it!

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  3. I have a six year old daughter with encopresis and I have been at my wits end with what to do about her soiling problems. I have just read "A girl Like you" to her and it was like we had written down our own story in a book - the similarity to our experience was incredible. As a result, it has had a hugely positive impact on my daughter as she now understands that she isn't the only one with this condition. I also found the book very helpful personally. It was so enlightening to gain an understanding of how my daughter feels about soiling herself, as she is still quite young to be able to fully explain her emotions to me. Thank you so much for writing such an excellent book.

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    1. Hi, thank you for your comment. I'm so please to hear that both you and your daughter found my book useful and could relate it to your own situation, I have had similar comments from many other parents. Best of luck in helping your little girl overcome her soiling problems.

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