I never really wrote about it, but we’ve been here before.
In December of 2019 I worked from home for two weeks, which were immediately followed up with a lengthy visit from my mom, Gramma Patty. This was when we were supposed to potty train Lennon. We even had the help of his ABA team, Jamie & Nicole, while they were at the house.
This is how it went, we transitioned Lennon to underwear only during the day. Every 30 minutes we would walk him to his “bathroom card” so he knew to show us that, then walk him to the toilet and sit with him there for a bit. If he went, he would get a treat (1/3 of a Peep – we had lots left over from Halloween), if he didn’t we would help pull his undies back up and go about our day.
The bathroom card is because he is nonverbal and would need a way to let us know if he needed to go as he is still unable to do a few essential things on his own. He is also not allowed access to any room with water unsupervised – that’s just trouble!
Those 30 minutes were quickly reduced. To 15. To 10. And then to 5.
Imagine that for a second. How mentally exhausting a trip to the bathroom every five minutes is (for me).
Now, don’t misunderstand. There are times when Lennon has a dry diaper for 30 minutes, it’s rare, but it happens. However, the goal with potty training is to reduce those accidents. In any given day I was cleaning up 15+ accidents. I even had Kenny go out and buy a new set of towels for just this purpose because I would run out of things to clean with EVERY SINGLE DAY.
Lennon continued to have accidents regardless of the time. Yes, even when there were just 5 minutes in between times he would sit on the potty. And sometimes he was even going on the potty. He just goes, A LOT.
When we first started, at the 30 minute increments, our BCBA was having us push fluids. “We want him to go more often,” she’d say. More opportunities for training I guess. I think she grossly underestimated what Lennon could produce with the regular amount of cups he had. LOL.
I would take the 5 a.m. to 8 a.m. shift, Nicole his RBT would handle 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. (with me on clean up duty), and then I was back on 100% after that. Daddy occasionally helped once he got off work. And we usually switched back to pull-ups by 7 p.m. and used pull-ups overnight as well.
I know we should have kept him in underwear until bedtime, but unless you’ve done it, you have NO IDEA just how exhausting a 5 minute bathroom schedule is.
The bright side is that he didn’t fight it. He was (usually) quite agreeable to sitting on the toilet.
Not once in the nearly 3 weeks we attempted potty training did he initiate a trip to the bathroom. Maybe he wasn’t ready. Maybe we just weren’t consistent enough – and I will fully admit I got incredibly lax with it on the weekends. Probably a combination of the two.
That was then, this is now.
Recently though, I’ve seen my child’s bare bottom more often than I’d like to admit. It seems as though EVERY SINGLE TIME I leave him and return just moments later, his diaper is off. I’d say 90% of the time it’s wet. He could be taking it off because he likes the freedom. Maybe because he’s recognizing that he’s wet and uncomfortable. I’m going to pretend that it’s a sign that my 3.5 year old just might be ready to try this again.
We are going to do the same routine as before (1) underwear; (2) bathroom card; (3) rewards.
- I purchased a few books for Lennon to enjoy while on the potty and created a playlist of potty time videos we can watch in there too.
- Bathroom cards have been printing and laminated and are velcroed to the outside of each bathroom door at Lennon’s eye level.
- I ordered a timer so I stay on track with the 5 minutes. It’s super loud and obnoxious so I can’t ignore it.
- We have 3 child sized potties and 1 (yet to be installed) that attaches to a regular seat. There will be a convenient location no matter where we are in the house.
- I bought him a 1-pound bag of dehydrated cereal marshmallows for his reward. These are something special to him that he will ONLY get for using the bathroom.
- My PTO is scheduled through Tuesday and then I will still be working from home to help him after that.
- And I have my notepad and pen at the ready to track it all and submit to his BCBA.
With kids on the spectrum potty training is a notoriously difficult task. And I think Lennon has a few other things going on that will make it even harder. He might get it, he might not – that’s just the reality. I’m okay with that and I can accept that, but if there is any chance of it happening for him I HAVE TO TRY. I love reading the success stories in some of my facebook groups – whether a child is 3 or 6 or 15, learning to use the toilet is a BIG DEAL. It’s such a huge step towards more independence.
Lennon has mastered some amazing skills over the last year and I’m really hoping we can add this notch to his belt! Fingers and toes crossed.
Is anyone out there doing quarantine potty training too? How’s it going?
I would love to hear what worked for you. What didn’t.
And more than anything else, WISH US LUCK!