The more smelly diapers I have to change, the more I look forward to potty training. Unfortunately, that does not look like a near goal in our crazy adventure. Silas is getting so big, strong, and oftentimes short-tempered. He is only three and is already over half my size. I envy my friends on facebook, because I have no actual friends (sad I know), that post things about how their not even two year old is using the potty. I want that so bad.
Can you imagine what it feels like to get disapproving looks from people when they see your child is still in diapers? I have come to accept these looks but as I have said numerous times, it still hurts. I think all moms and dads want their child to be like every other child. Sadly, all of us with children on the spectrum know that will never happen but that want is still there. Still burning like fire with gasoline that won’t burn out.
Some of you may be wondering, why is it so difficult to potty train a child on the spectrum? Here is a short explanation from TEACCH
Even in typically-developing children, toilet training is often a difficult skill to master. While the child may have good awareness and control of his body, there are other factors… social factors… that determine how easily toileting skills are learned. Small children do not feel an intrinsic desire to become toilet trained. Rather, they acquire this skill in order to please their parents and to gain the social status of ” big boy” or “big girl”. This social motivation is a critical factor in determining “readiness” for toilet training.
How might the characteristics of autism contribute to a child’s difficulty in learning to independently use the toilet?
- The child’s difficulty with understanding and enjoying reciprocal social relationships would certainly interfere with this process. While other 2- or 3-year-olds might be proud of their “big boy pants” and might be happy to please their parents, this type of motivation is rare in a child with autism.
- Given the characteristic difficulties in understanding language or imitating models, a child with autism may not understand what is being expected of him in the toilet.
- A child with autism typically has significant difficulty organizing and sequencing information and with attending to relevant information consistently. Therefore following all the steps required in toileting and staying focused on what the task is all about are big challenges.
- Further, the child’s difficulty in accepting changes in his routines also makes toileting a difficult skill to master. From the child’s point of view, where is the pressing need to change the familiar routine of wearing and changing a diaper? After 3, or 4, or 6 years of going in the diaper, this routine is very strongly established.
- A child with autism may also have difficulty integrating sensory information and establishing the relationship between body sensations and everyday functional activities. Therefore he may not know how to “read” the body cues that tell him he needs to use the toilet. He may also be overly involved in the sensory stimulation of the “product”— smearing feces is not uncommon in young children with autism. The child may also be overwhelmed by the sensory environment of the toilet, with loud flushing noises, echoes, rushing water, and a chair with a big hole in it right over this water! A further consideration is that the removal of clothing for toileting may trigger exaggerated responses to the change in temperature and the tactile feeling of clothes on versus clothes off.
I do not even know where to begin with Silas. The whole thought of where the hell do we start is blowing my mind. He is starting to go longer periods between going in his diaper and stays dry all night. On the other hand, he has not learned how to remove clothing. I do not think he understands what is expected. He will not have anything to do with the toilet. At my wits end…I’m discussing a plan with his ABA therapists.
Last night, just out of curiosity, I introduced him to his first pair of “big boy pants” with Mickey Mouse on them thinking maybe he would like them. He ABSOLUTELY HATED THEM! It was a fight to even get his dang legs in the holes much less get them pulled up. I was using my elbows, chin, knees, whatever I could to push them wild flying legs into the holes of those stupid underpants. I won the fight and got them on Silas but he won the battle. Not even 10 seconds of being in them he was out of them again. I’m not giving up though. I refuse to change diapers for forever. He may not be ready right now, but when he is…I’ll be holding them big boy pants and throwing a party!
Hey, if I can get him to wear clothes surely I can get him to pee and poop in the throne all by himself…right? I’m supermom!