The Denver Autism Wheel

Posts Tagged ‘toilet training

ImageBy way of explanation, this is not a current situation in the AutieMom Kate family. But I’ve answered some questions lately about how to get an AutieKid good with the potty, so I thought I’d revisit some of those memories and share how we got here from there.

The typical age when kids train is 2ish. There is a LOT of wiggle room in that. Typi-kid Luke trained himself in one week, just before he turned 2. He and I had a deal: he could wear his Superman costume all day once he wasn’t in diapers (Superman doesn’t wear diapers, you see). That was all he needed: the right motivation. He was so excited about going to the grocery store or the library in his super suit, he was willing to learn to use the toilet.

AutieBoy Chris, on the other hand, didn’t learn until he was 4. Why? Didn’t have the motivation until then. I’m pretty sure he thought the rest of us were chumps, stopping our activity to go into a small room for a couple of minutes and then having to pick up where we left off.

So how did he get the motivation? The same way he learned to walk. We made him 🙂

There are 3 important facts to keep in mind when approaching toilet training:

  1. Kids get to it when they get to it, regardless of adult schedules or expectations.
  2. Once they get it, they get it. It seems like a big mountain, but you only have to climb it once for each kid.
  3. Unless there’s a significant medical reason for it, no kid wears a diaper to prom or high school graduation.

A couple of books were pretty helpful: topics like “potty training in a week.” The key there is the same as it is for a lot of milestones. Consistent expectations and taking the time to make a new activity a habit. A bit of a caveat: I was working from home at that time, so I was able to dedicate the time to this project. This method would be very difficult to complete successfully in a daycare setting without a dedicated adult, so keep in mind that it requires face time for several days (yes, days) to get this done. But again, once it’s done, it’s done forever.

One other qualifier in this explanation: Chris had very few sensory sensitivities or ritual behaviors. While it took him longer than Luke to get used to the new policy about the toilet, we didn’t have to contend with a rigid adherence to his established expectations, and he wasn’t skittish about the sounds or feelings associated with the process. We did have a calm and positive environment for toileting and took our time getting there, and I think that helped. There were no negative consequences for accidents; we just started the timer again and put the wet underpants in the wash.

The books advised putting the potty in a common area (I chose the kitchen: tile floors for easy cleanup if necessary) and spending most of the day around toileting activities. I got a stopwatch and some “big boy” underpants for Chris. I also got him a good supply of apple juice and water, and finger food snacks. 20 minutes off, 5 minutes on. That went on most of the day. Yes, it was boring, but it was necessary. Yes, we had some accidents. When that happened, we started over. It took until the afternoon to hear the little sound in the potty. We celebrated and started the timer again.

Part of the process is associating fresh air on the body parts with relieving oneself. Chris was used to going while the diaper was in contact with his skin. It was a new concept for him, and it took some time to realize that it was OK.

By Day 2, we were up to 35 minutes off, 5 minutes on. He got better at it, and I’d lengthen the time by 5-minute increments. This process went on for about 3 days.

Once he got used to the idea, he was OK with it, and it became a routine. By about Week 2, we’d taken the potty top and put it on the big toilet with a step stool, so he could climb up. From then on, he was golden. He didn’t have accidents, he didn’t look back, and in retrospect, it seemed like a much bigger deal than it actually turned out to be.

You might know (well, you might not, but I do, so I’ll tell you) that the age difference between the boys is a little over 2 years. Luke hit toilet training at almost 2. Chris at 4. Coincidence? Doubt it. There’s nothing like a little sibling rivalry to git ‘er done sometimes, and this AutieMom isn’t averse to using whatever tools are available. Yes, it’s likely that part of Luke’s motivation was to train himself at the same time as his brother. And yes, it’s also likely that Luke’s success niggled Chris enough to get his rear in gear, so to speak.


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