Last year at this time we were very discouraged and at a loss for what to do. You see, Andy was sort of potty trained at around 5 years old but had some regression once he started having his absence seizures. Potty training with him has been a VERY LONG ROAD.
Like most parents, we started putting Andy on the potty soon after he turned two years old. At that time, we were just beginning to learn about his delays and navigate the ins and outs of IEP’s and therapy. Andy truly had no interest in potty training and was unfortunately one of those babies that would happily play all day in a dirty/wet diaper until an adult initiated the change.
For three summers and off and on during those school years, we would attempt anything from just sitting on the potty every so often to full fledged elimination records. In all honesty, we would just get exhausted and give up because Andy just really didn’t care one way or the other. It was finally in the summer of 2010 that we started having some success. That summer, we were able to qualify for a home care giver who came to work with Andy for 14 hours per week. There were two young ladies who came almost every day to work on skills with Andy and on the top of our priority list was going potty. As a bit of luck, we happened to be living in Wilmington, North Carolina at the time and we had a small 3 foot pool outside of our back door that summer. It just so happened that Andy absolutely fell in love with “swimming” in the pool so we used that as a motivator for going potty. That, along with going to only underwear and some other motivators brought us to being “potty trained” by the time he started Kindergarten that year in August.
Of course, I put it in quotations because I am now able to see (looking back) that Dan and I were the ones who were trained, not Andy. We had to keep in our mind at all times how long it had been since he had last gone in the potty. We had to remind him, take him, help him with every little step. He still had a few accidents at school and was still not able to articulate accurately when he felt the need to go. Still, even as we moved to Seattle, there were successes. I remember him successfully going while we were on the plane, several times in the hotel we stayed in and even once in a park restroom while we were looking for an apartment to live in. Granted, during that transition, we would put his underwear on with a pull-up over them, but he was still staying dry most of the time. He even stayed in underwear throughout Kindergarten, but it was half-day and I would still put a pull-up on him during “quiet time”.
It was in January or February of 2011 when he started to regress at the same time as he started having his seizures. We tried, unsuccessfully to keep him in underwear during 1st grade. He was just having too many accidents for the school to be comfortable so we grudgingly obliged them and went back to full pull-ups. Last summer, I was determined that we would be successful and I went full force during August. We gave M&M’s and took him to the potty several times a day, no pull-ups, and made him clean up his own mess when he had them. By the time school started in September, he was able to stay dry all morning and would try sitting on the potty in the afternoon, but refused to go at school. As luck would have it, he had learned to hold his bladder and hasn’t had too many accidents this year.
Even with all of this success, an adult still had to remind him to go potty or ask him if he had to go. We had him on a regular routine, first thing in the morning, trying to go at school, as soon as he gets off the bus and just before going to bed. Occasionally he would tell us he had to go potty, but we still had to take him and he still had accidents. Then in February, I decided to try the Gluten Free/Casein Free diet I had heard so much about over the last several years. We had tried some foods just to see if he would eat them and we had talked to his doctor who suggested to try it and see if there was any difference. In the first week, Dan and I reluctantly agreed that he was just a little more calm.
It was during the second week on this diet that Andy started going to the potty on his own. I mean REALLY on his own. I came home one Thursday afternoon to find Katie running around with something from the bathroom and Dan sitting in the recliner. I found Andy in the bathroom, on the potty, pants and underwear pulled down, doing his thing. When I asked Dan how long he had been on the potty, he told me he had not put him on it. JAW. ON. FLOOR! Skeptics that we are, we were afraid to celebrate. But when it happened again the next day and twice on Saturday, we started to do little dances of joy. Andy is finally able to feel when he has to go and can physically go on his own, open the door, and complete almost all steps by himself. We hardly ever have to remind him and he has only had 2 accidents since February, once when he didn’t get a chance to go as soon as he got off the bus, and once when he drank a lot of water at school and lost it on the bus. It’s not perfect, but I feel like we can finally move on to other skills now like wiping and snapping/zipping his pants which is a fine motor issue that may take a lot of work. Now to work on Katie. Our goal is to have her trained by her 4th birthday this August. At least she shows some interest and can tell us when she’s wet or dirty. I feel like that’s half the battle.
Now, any suggestions on night-time training? That’s a whole other story! 😉