I'll be honest, there is nothing more "real" in life than potty training. As I write, I am midst of typical 2 year old tantrums and the throws of potty training. When it comes to autism and potty training, it can be a very difficult experience. If you have a child with autism, you understand how this milestone is a clear reminder that autism is in your life. While other parents are bragging about how little "Johnny" is using the potty like a champ, you are wondering if our child will ever be potty trained.
Tyler was almost 4 years old when we trained him. I couldn't discuss potty training with my friends with typical children, because they could never understand what what happening with my son. My mom didn't know how to help me either since both of us were new to autism. I knew that I needed serious help if my child would ever learn to use the toilet.
My son's negative reaction to the toilet was clearly a behavioral issue, and my son's behavior specialist (BSC) agreed to help me train him. Since I was working full time, I took the entire week off at Christmas to devote my time to the training. My son's BSC and therapeutic support staff (TSS) put together a detailed plan for the training and we set things in motion.
I can remember the loud screaming as soon as Tyler would even step into the bathroom. He loved to take a bath but wanted nothing to do with the toilet. We must have spent at least 2 days just getting him into bathroom to sit on the potty. The TSS were in my house 8 hours a day helping Tyler through the behaviors. We charted what he drank and ate every minute of the day and how long it took before he would have to urinate or bm.
Since Tyler was always dry during the night, it made it easier to go "cold turkey" - no diapers. We rewarded him for sitting on the potty even if he didn't go. While he sat on the potty, we read stories and sang to him so that he would change his behavior from screaming to enjoying being on the potty. After 7 days of charting and cleaning up messes, Tyler was potty trained. I was close to a nervous breakdown, but Tyler had success!
When I look back on this experience, it almost doesn't seem real considering all the amazing progress Tyler has made. Yet at the same time, I am looking at my precious 2 year old's face as she grins ear to ear over the thought of going potty. She can't get enough of the potty! She won't go on the potty but she loves the potty. Progress!
Yet like 7 years ago, potty training has my "panties in bunch" once again. But I know that if my son with autism can be trained, so too can my daughter. And so goes life. Real life.
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