Thursday, October 22, 2009


You heard it here first! :-)

I haven't talked about potty issues much lately because there's been nothing to report. (Unlike various fellow-bloggers who seem to be on a gas-passing roll lately...)

At age five-and-a-half, Joy's still in MA-funded diapers, and though she's had several little strings of potty-pee successes over the past few years, basically there's been little movement on the whole toilet-training issue here (heh, heh -- "movement"!) For what seems like forever, I've been sitting Joy on the toilet, with a seat-insert so she can balance more easily, before evening bath. She's been fairly willing to sit on the pot and play with a board book together for a couple of minutes, but rarely produces.

Something interesting has been happening lately, though. In the past week or so, she's been waking up dry in the morning, more often than not. We've also been seeing some incredible diaper-leaks during the day, veritable waterfalls.

I think she's learning to "hold it." I think she probably also likes the sensation of "holding it," little sensory-seeker that she is.

Tuesday morning she woke dry, I tried a toilet attempt but she let loose between diaper-removal and actually getting onto the pot. Wednesday morning she woke dry, we tried the potty thing, she sat for a while without producing and we put the diaper back on (still hadn't peed by the time we got to daycare). This morning she woke dry, sat on the pot for a while, and then let the waterfall commence appropriately!! Woohoo!!!

So now what?

I've been rather avoiding the whole toilet-training issue, seeing as how life has been plenty full on its own. The Google results on autism & toilet training are pretty depressing, all sorts of stuff about spending hours and hours in the bathroom (like Joy would be willing, let alone me having that time to spend in the first place), or ABA incrementalism regarding "first you get your child to be willing to go through the bathroom door, then s/he needs to be able to remain in the bathroom for five seconds..." etc., which is obviously not where we are.

There have been several obstacles to toilet training as far as Joy is concerned. First is that she's not much of an imitator, so having a potty-competent big sister isn't all that helpful. Second is that she doesn't seem particularly aware of having a full diaper, either wet or messy (probably likes the sensation, if anything.) A big third thing is her communication delays.

Is there any chance that if we view this pee-holding as a new threshold of maturity, and push fluids and take her to toilet-sit fairly often to increase chance of success... that we'd actually end up with a potty-training trajectory? Or should we just add the morning potty-sit to the bathtime potty-sit rather than making a big push right now (heh, heh -- "push!")? Or do we need to plan for some fancy autism-specific training regimen?

Thoughts, dear been-there-done-that readers?


datri said...

I'm right there with you -- Kayla does exactly the same thing. She holds it until she just soaks through everything. She's dry in the morning, so I try to put her on the potty before school, but she never goes. And inevitably she's wearing a completely different outfit returning from school than the one I sent her in! We've had some hit and miss success with the potty. I suppose if I were more consistent we'd have better results, but I'm just not ready to wrap my mind around that one yet.

Anonymous said...

Coming in as an observer here more than btdt...usually I think of readiness in terms of the child, but this time I'm seeing a lack of readiness in parents (including datri). *elbow to ribs*

Once you decide you are ready, JM...the toilet training programs I've observed (being strategically employed only as a P not an O in these circumstances) relied heavily on frequent timed placement on the potty. Like hourly. I think this kind of effort affords longer periods of dryness and increases the chances of producing in the right place.

Verbal accompaniment as appropriate. Not recommending ABA-style reinforcement for bodily functions.

You might consider committing to a time-limited trial of an intensive effort.

You might 'program' for just one of the bodily functions, at a time as it were.

I really can't go on...already maxed-out on my potty-talk for tonight. BRatK

jess said...

i'd say keep putting her on the pot as much as you can and as consistently as you can through the day. the more opportunities she has to go on the potty, the better chance that she does - and as she begins to see the positive reaction to it, she'll be more likely to begin to understand what's so great about this whole idea.

we had started out using an aba type reward system - but i will tell you, the 'rewards' were things like mama doing the 'kendall peed in the potty dance' .. yes, really. she'd laugh her little bottom off when i did a little song and dance routine one day and it seemed to be far more interesting to her than stickers or toys or anything else we'd thought to offer.

wishing you luck!!

jess said...

Oh - and I didn't even mention the 'she is a super duper pooper' song. Let me know when you're ready, I'll send the lyrics. ;)

mama edge said...

Movement - heh heh, indeed! When Taz was four, I used the book, Toilet Training for Individuals with Autism and Related Disorders, and yes, it was a work-intensive nightmare with its charts and toilet sits, etc. As BRatK suggested, I committed myself to it for a limited time, and it didn't really work. BUT... I did learn a lot during those two weeks about Taz's, er, elimination patterns, which helped me to figure out a more manageable program for me to do on a longer-term basis. In the end (heh heh), I don't know if anything I did helped as much as his own decision that he wanted to use the potty. He's still not fully trained, as you know, but it's definitely better.

I do agree that the trajectory (heh heh-trajectory) is decidely in your favor!

Trish said...

Such a difficult topic - my seven year old still uses overnights for sleeping, although he is fully trained during the day. I think I just need to make it a priority and let him know we are going to do it.

We used Maria Wheeler's book as a guide and did schedule training. Once his body adjusted and he began holding it for a period of time we were able to do a more normal route of asking him if he had to go. It took a few months all in all.

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

ditto therextras. it's the only thing that worked for rhema. we put her on the potty once every hr. - sometimes every 45 min. if she had an accident. the school did the same, and in a rather short time she was trained. we used PECS to manage the communication piece.

now we're working on her initiating. she just goes on her own right now, and we're trying to get her to give us the PEC symbol when she has to go. i have a feeling this one will take a while to learn.

anyway, if she's holding it, i think joy is ready!