xmlns:og='http://ogp.me/ns#' Yeah. Good Times.: "All Kids Do That" Part 14: Potty Training

Monday, March 19, 2012

"All Kids Do That" Part 14: Potty Training

See the tab above for more information about this series.

Okay, I got a little backed up/confused/befuddled about this series and my schedule and all that, but I'm pretty sure I've got things under control right now. If you have not received an email from me today, and you have sent me something for this, please contact me and let me know. After this post, I only have one more waiting in the wings, and all I have after that are promises of posts but no actual posts. I would really like somebody to write about sensory issues, stimming and obsessions, so somebody get me something please! (Also, if your name is Emily, and you are not related to me, just a reminder that you have made promises of a Guest Posting nature..... And if your name is Rachel, I can't remember if you've made promises or not, but I'm choosing to remember that you have. :) I'm calling you girls out!!!)

Today I am happy to welcome Lisa, who blogs at Autism Wonderland. Hi Lisa!!!

All Kids Do That: Potty Training
Lisa Quinones-Fontanez

I don’t know why they say it; things like, “oh that’s all kids…” with a wave of their hand, whenever I say something, almost anything about my six year old son, Norrin. When Norrin had trouble those first few days weeks months of kindergarten – oh, that’s all kids. When Norrin doesn’t want to sit down to eat a meal – oh, that’s all kids. When Norrin doesn’t sleep at night – oh, that’s all kids. And every year when I explain that Norrin doesn’t really understand the concept of Christmas – oh, that’s all kids.

Whenever anyone tells a special needs parent “all kids do that” – those four small words completely dismiss the diagnosis, the struggles of our day to day lives.

At least, that’s how I feel when I hear those words. Maybe they say it to make me feel normal. Maybe clumping our kids together makes understanding autism a little easier for them. Whatever the reason is, I know it’s not all kids. And when it comes to potty training – it certainly isn’t like all kids.

I started potty training when Norrin was two and half years old; the usual boy age to start. Whenever I talked about our potty training challenges with “typical” moms, they were all quick to tell me “all boys take a long time.” Then proceeded to tell me how it took them three weeks with their boy as opposed to the one week it took for their girl (or something crazy like that). And these moms offered suggestions, reward methods, books to read…but I knew none of these things would work for Norrin.

Well, it didn’t take three weeks to potty training Norrin. We’ve been training for the last three years.

Because what Norrin needed was time. He needed to understand the concept. He needed the motor planning to be able to pull down his pants (and/or to wipe backside). Norrin needed to strengthen his core so he could stand still and straight. Norrin needed to learn how to stop an activity and go to the bathroom – first with prompting and eventually without. Norrin needed the words to say “I have to go potty” or “I need help.” And he still needs help with fine motor skills like unbuttoning jeans and manipulating a zipper.

In order to get Norrin potty trained, we needed the assistance of an ABA therapist, several special education teachers and aides, speech and occupational therapists. We needed to use timers, visual aids, social stories and prompts. (Let’s not forget the wonders of Miralax!)

And along our potty training journey there were plenty of discarded underpants, stained carpets and wet floors. We went through bottles of detergent, tubs of disinfectant wipes and rolls of paper towels. And needless to say, the boxes and boxes of pull ups that we are still using. Yes – Norrin is potty trained during the day. Night time potty is a whole different story…

So instead of suggestions on what we should be doing, instead of dismissing the diagnosis by saying “that’s all kids,” take the time to listen and understand that in some ways our kids are different. Understand that because our kids are different, that our parenting needs to be different. And when it comes to stuff like potty training – what worked for your kid, may not necessarily work for a kid on the spectrum. Unless of course you used a book called “How to Potty Train in 10 Years or Less.” Because if you find that book, please be sure to pass that bad boy along.