Potty learning timing and strategies - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 17 Old 11-05-2012, 01:24 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My son will be 3 in January and has mild, high-functioning ASD. I have two questions about potty learning, and very open to all suggestions.

 

  1. Is now a good time to try?
  2. What are your favorite strategies?

 

The background is that he had some interest a few months ago, was sitting on the potty occasionally, both with and without clothes, and peeing in it a few times. I suggested underwear, he was very excited, picked out some with cars, we put them on, and as soon as he peed in them and realized how they felt wet, wanted no more to do with either underwear or potty.

 

Next we tried going naked. He held it for a long time, was very uncomfortable, and finally went on the floor. A few minutes later he went on the potty. He looked up with a huge smile and said, “I learned to pee on the potty!” But he has never tolerated it since. Major upset if anyone suggests the potty, or underwear, or going naked.

 

In the last couple weeks, he has seemed more amenable and open to things in general (though not to the potty). Knowing that toddlers/preschoolers often cycle in and out of more easygoing moods, I’m wondering if I should seize this opportunity to try again, perhaps more assertively? In general I lean more toward the “waiting until they are ready” approach, but I know that doesn’t always work the same way for kids on the spectrum. Am I going to have to push the issue at some point, and if so, are we at that point now?

 

I would also love suggestions on what strategies to try. I want him to feel good about this.

At daycare they get stickers for going on the potty – he likes seeing kids get stickers, but hasn’t seemed motivated by them himself. In the past he has responded well to kind of a cold turkey approach – eg one day his beloved bottle just “wasn’t around,” and he really never asked for it. But the resistance already in place regarding the potty makes me think that may not work here.

 

Finally, from the time he could pull himself to standing, he has always, always pooped standing up. How in the world is he going to transition to pooping on a potty or toilet?

 

Thank you so much!

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#2 of 17 Old 11-05-2012, 03:05 PM
 
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Unfortunately I don't have any good suggestions for you, just want you to know I am struggling right there with you. hug.gif

 

We started potty learning in the middle of August and are no where close to done yet. DS seemed to catch on pretty fast: I set the alarm for every 15 minutes and took him when it went off. If he went, he got a fruit snack. I was slowly able to increase the time until we were up to about 45 minutes.And he was initiating needing to go.  And then we went on a trip. And then another one. Now we have dry days and not so dry days. He is mostly in pull ups b/c he has NO poop awareness at all, and no poop schedule either. There is just a limit to how many times a day I can change poopy underpants!  Fortunately he has no issue with the toilet but seems to have lost interest in the whole thing.

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#3 of 17 Old 11-05-2012, 05:19 PM
 
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My 3.5y old DS1 with ASD just potty learned last month, as in Oct. We had been trying for almost 1.5 years! It obviously was a long, long process and then eventually, it just clicked. We did end up with a no pants rule (or underwear/diaper) at home for a year prior to him potty training. That took a while for him to get used to it. Everything had to move in very gradually steps. So I took away pants in the house but would't ask anything about the potty or him going on it because he would totally melt at the idea. We just cleaned up the messes. Eventually I started having him sit on it for a minute. He would never do anything. Then we started catching some. Eventually he was potty trained at home but not out. That went on for months, we'd put a diaper on him to leave the house and I could never ask out if he had to go, another meltdown. Then suddenly everything seemed to click. he started announcing that he had to go. I took a giant leap and took away all diapers for a long weekend from school. When school started back up, they were interested in helping me in this so we continued with no diapers. He now is reliable, he doesn't wear underwear because he can't pull them down well and and then beginning, he would just pee in them like a diaper anyway. 

 

Potty training DS1 was SOO different then my NST kids They got it in days, he just couldn't manage it. He would melt at the very suggestion of taking off pants, sitting on potty, peeing on potty, peeing on public bathroom potty or grass, etc... We had to move very, very slowly. He also does not respond to bribes, he just doesn't care. And eventually it clicked but it was a very long, frustrating process and honestly, if I could go back and tell myself something, i think I would of just chosen to wait until he was older. I don't know why I started when I did other then my other kids were out of diapers then but he isn't my other children. duh.gif And there was no forcing the issue with him, I'd get complete refusal or he would not acknowledge me at all. 


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#4 of 17 Old 11-07-2012, 09:04 PM
 
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Thanks PPs for this thread. 

We are thinking of starting potty learning with DS too...mostly just because he is at "that age" (almost 2.5), we are sick of fighting with him EVERY time we have to change his diaper and we are expecting a new baby in April. He shows no signs of readiness or interest other than liking the books we got him about going on the potty. He is also HF with mild ASD.

I hope to hear more input and experiences on this topic here as we decide whether or not to even try right now. 

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#5 of 17 Old 11-08-2012, 06:24 AM
 
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Just out of curiosity since your son is on the autism spectrum, what are his specific sensory issues? You may need to work around his sensory issues with potty learning, I had to do that when dd potty learned because she is hypersensitive to auditory and tactile stimuli.

 

I think three is a good age to start but he may not really get potty learning for quite a while, my daughter learned at 4. With both of my kids the best approach has been giving them lots of potty books, answering questions, and watching some special potty movies, my son adored Elmo's Potty Time while my daughter preferred Potty Power, we just learned about it and nothing more for about 2 weeks. After learning all about the potty they both went naked around the house and I would follow them all over and point out whenever their bodies were showing them signs they might need to use the potty, we then went to the potty and sat down for the length of 1 book. My daughter potty trained herself within about 2 days of doing this, my son took a little bit longer but he was using the potty within 2wks of starting this and he had just turned 3.

 

Good luck to you!


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#6 of 17 Old 11-08-2012, 08:00 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Mittsy View Post

Just out of curiosity since your son is on the autism spectrum, what are his specific sensory issues? You may need to work around his sensory issues with potty learning, I had to do that when dd potty learned because she is hypersensitive to auditory and tactile stimuli.

 

 

 

 

very good point. We certainly had to work around sensory issues as well. DS1 does not have great balance, he is not able to to pee standing up or balance well on a potty even with a little seat. We bought every little potty out there and the only one that worked well for him is the Baby Bjorn one. We have 3 and kept one in the room with us at all times. One had a permeant place in our living room for a year! He can not tolerate loud noises, I have to flush the big potty with the door closed after he is out of the bathroom. And hence why peeing in any other place but our little potty at home was so difficult to transition out of. 

 

 I actually ended up buying a PT book for kids on the spectrum. http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1932565493/ref=pd_lpo_k2_dp_sr_1?pf_rd_p=486539851&pf_rd_s=lpo-top-stripe-1&pf_rd_t=201&pf_rd_i=1885477457&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_r=1QHKA4ZNPGT5ZHWPSRWV


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#7 of 17 Old 11-08-2012, 08:58 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you to everyone! Such helpful ideas and insights. And yes, great point about sensory preferences. My son is mostly a seeker. Has never minded having a wet or dirty diaper (which I why I was somewhat surprised by how much he hated wet underwear. I guess it's a whole different thing). Enjoys (for now anyway) flushing the toilet.

 

Meant to add before, he is really resisting diaper changes right now. So logically it would be a good time to try something else, but I know this is not about logic.

 

But I really am curious if I should be pushing to take advantage of this seeming window of opportunity when he seems generally less resistant to trying things. I guess I'm trying to figure out if this window is going to close again, or if it's just going to keep opening wider. If your child started at 3 and learned by 4, do you think if you'd started at 4 he would have also learned at 4, or would it have taken him a year no matter when you started?

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#8 of 17 Old 11-08-2012, 10:39 AM
 
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DS1 is higher functioning, he does make eye contact and engage with adults. I say it that way because when we've done cognitive testing on him, he seems to test across the board at being just about a year behind his actual age. For all purposes now, he is 3.5 and functions like a 2.5 year old. So I guess realistically. it was awesome that he was potty trained at 3.5! He still is very set in his ways but the older, he gets, the more I can reason (some) with him and sometimes, the more that he is willing to try something new even it it takes several attempts. I think that if we had started at 3 or older, the duration of how long it took him before it clicked, would of been decreased. His maturity is increasingly rapidly these days. Some days I even "think" of him as a three year old. I do think that once he was an older 3, he was more able to understand, when he had just turned 3, he had no clue about potty training. 

 

There is nothing that says once you start potty training, you have to keep at it. You can start, stop, pick up again later if it is not the right time. 


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#9 of 17 Old 11-14-2012, 01:53 AM
 
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I found this very helpful article about toilet learning on the floortime website (icdl).

Take a look! It has really helped me to rethink some things and I think we may try slowly sometime soon.

 

http://www.icdl.com/dirFloortime/newsletter/documents/Vol7No2.pdf


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#10 of 17 Old 11-15-2012, 07:15 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks! Peony - yeah, we've started and stopped more times than I can count. But helpful to know that for you, the window seems to open wider. Expat, the article is interesting. Still not sure where it leaves me since my boy is so resistant to anything except wearing a diaper (resists underwear, resists naked). Hates taking a break for a fresh diaper, so hates breaking for potty even more. But from reading several of your posts, our sons have some similar characteristics, so I'm very curious to know how it goes for you. Please keep me posted!
 

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#11 of 17 Old 11-15-2012, 08:03 AM
 
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As I was almost in tears regarding ds & the potty last night, I remembered this thread and was excited to get to work and share my frustration with others who are dealing with the same thing! I guess I wasn't really in tears but to a point where I don't know where to go!!!! When we first started potty learning ds got it really quickly, we spent 2 weeks focused on it, no resistance, went every time I took him, stretched out to an hr, started telling me when he needed to go, even went by himself once or twice. And then we went away for a weekend, then another one etc. Got on with life you know?

 

Now he never tells me he needs to go, sometimes wets within the 30 min stretch when I take him and doesn't seem to notice anything.

 

I will admit that there have been major changes in Nov: I started working 32hrs a week and he is being looked after by a friend 2 days a week, and my mum the other day and still by hubby on his days off as normal.  My friend & mum are taking him potty every 45 mins too, but he is wet almost every time. The other thing to note is he is in pull-ups all the time. This is also because of being in different places with different people, and the fact that he has NO awareness of when he is about to poop, and it is easier for the others to change a poopy pull up than poopy underpants.

 

So I guess I just need encouragement to keep doing what we're doing and hope he gets it again one day. It's just so frustrating that he totally had it (at least the pee part) and now doesn't seam to at all. On the bright side, if he got it once he can get it again right???

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#12 of 17 Old 11-19-2012, 09:40 PM
 
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This is meant more as a funny story than advise - I doubt it would really work for anyone else, but how it worked for us:

 

YoungSon was nearly 4, and nowhere near considering the issue. Period. I had brought up the idea any number of times, tried several different approaches, but he was clearly NOT ready. But I was starting nursing school, and I really needed him to be in the same preschool/daycare as his sister, and they had an absolute no-diapers rule. I had less than a week to solve this problem. I am not above a bit of manipulative lying when needed.

 

I told him he would have to go to the old daycare while BigGirl went to the cool preschool if he wasn't using the toilet. He had no concept that we had moved 700 miles away; he simply did not want to be separated from his sister. He had no idea that this was an empty threat. He literally said only, "Oh, OK", and was instantly and permanently potty trained. Well, not so much overnight, but he never wore a diaper in the daytime again.

 

On a sort of serious note, YoungSon to this day (at 16) will do almost anything if he understands the reason, and almost nothing if he doesn't get it. He has never benefited from any sort of reward system, couldn't care less about sticker charts, or what others might think of him. Priveleges earned or lost have never been any sort of motivator for him. But when I can explain, in terms he relates to, why it is important that he behave a certain way or accomplish a certain task, he is amazing. Now days, the reasoning comes from within himself, and from the outside world (laws, job/school requirements), more than from Mama, but the result is the same. I have never heard this kind of thinking described in the context of "autistic attributes", but I have seen it in many other kids on the spectrum.
 


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#13 of 17 Old 11-20-2012, 05:51 PM
 
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Originally Posted by baltmom View Post

Thank you to everyone! Such helpful ideas and insights. And yes, great point about sensory preferences. My son is mostly a seeker. Has never minded having a wet or dirty diaper (which I why I was somewhat surprised by how much he hated wet underwear. I guess it's a whole different thing). Enjoys (for now anyway) flushing the toilet.

Meant to add before, he is really resisting diaper changes right now. So logically it would be a good time to try something else, but I know this is not about logic.

But I really am curious if I should be pushing to take advantage of this seeming window of opportunity when he seems generally less resistant to trying things. I guess I'm trying to figure out if this window is going to close again, or if it's just going to keep opening wider. If your child started at 3 and learned by 4, do you think if you'd started at 4 he would have also learned at 4, or would it have taken him a year no matter when you started?

I don't think it will take a whole year from whenever you start. Timing is a huge factor. He has to be ready for it, but he will probably not just let you know. You have to keep trying, but wait some time in between attempts. My DS wasn't ready at 3, but 6 months later I tried again a different way. It took about 3-4 weeks of staying home and him going without wearing anything on the lower half. He had to get used to the feeling of him peeing = something coming out of him down there. (I was prepared to clean up the floors and had a Bjorn potty available on every level of the house wherever he was at so he wouldnt' have to travel far to get to a potty.) Once he figured that out, he went to commando style - no underwear - and I put on tight pants so he could feel them everywhere. I used his pajamas at first as they are form fitting. A few weeks of that and he went to using underwear. (I had tried underwear on him once, right after the initial 3-4 week training time, and it seemed to make him think he was in pull-ups again and he peed in them. That's why I had him go without underwear for awhile.)

During this pee-learning time, he always let me know ahead of time when he had to poo, so I gave him a diaper/pull-up for him to poo into whenever he needed it. He also would only poo standing up, and he'd usually run into another room to do it. We solved the pee problem first. It was months later when we solved the poo issue, quite by accident. He had been quite constipated for several days, so I decided to give him one of those baby glycerin suppositories. He immediately said he had to go poo and asked for a diaper, so I just suggested we go to the toilet. I was surprised he gave no resistance to that idea - he probably had to go so urgently. That was it for the poo issue. After that he always went on the potty. Not sure I'd recommend the suppository solution, unless he actually needs one.

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#14 of 17 Old 11-20-2012, 07:40 PM
 
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Not trying to hijack here- just want to raise an issue we are having right now. In the past few days we have been letting DS go pants-less before and after bath time- he usually goes poo right before bath time and also pees in the bath as he is getting out or in the bath before he gets out. So we thought this would be a good opportunity to feel him out with the potty. A few times in the past several days he has peed on the floor and gotten terribly upset about the mess. By this I mean he cried for 30 minutes and was only mildly calmed after seeing that we had cleaned up the mess and it was all gone and we had wiped his legs completely down and put a diaper on etc. 

 

DS does get upset about making messes- I don't know how this came about, we don't stress about "spilled milk", paint or crayon on the walls around here. He just hates messes and is not happy until things are back in order- and if they can't be fixed (he broke a cup once and we could not calm him down once he saw that it couldn't be fixed and that we threw it out) he really freaks. 

 

So I think going pants-less is out for us I guess? I worry about his reaction to "accidents" in the training process. His reaction to messes is not something I think he will grow out of- he's been this way for a really long time. I assume it's part of his ASD stuff.

 

Any ideas? For now I'm regrouping and rethinking strategies. We are taking it VERY slow.


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#15 of 17 Old 11-21-2012, 08:31 AM
 
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Expat-mama, we were advised to not go pantless with ds since if he got used to that, then he might freak out with having pants on. He is very routine oriented and I understand the reasoning. So, maybe not going pantless for you has a bright side??? wink1.gif

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#16 of 17 Old 11-21-2012, 10:37 AM
 
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So I think going pants-less is out for us I guess? I worry about his reaction to "accidents" in the training process. His reaction to messes is not something I think he will grow out of- he's been this way for a really long time. I assume it's part of his ASD stuff.

Any ideas? For now I'm regrouping and rethinking strategies. We are taking it VERY slow.

I assume you showed him where to put his pee when he has to go? Perhaps it's too soon.

My DS did get upset the first time he peed on the floor, but I quickly showed him where to put his pee the next time. He got the idea, but he still has low sensation of when he has to go. That's why it took 3-4 weeks for us.

ETA: I liked the book: Stress-Free Potty Training by Au and Stavinoha.
http://www.amazon.com/Stress-Free-Potty-Training-Commonsense-Approach/dp/0814401627/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1353535789&sr=1-1&keywords=stress+free+potty+training

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#17 of 17 Old 11-21-2012, 02:30 PM
 
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Does your ds have tacitle sensitivity? If he does I would guess that he just doesn't like the sensation of his legs getting all wet. My dd, who has the sensory issues, never cared about getting her pants wet, so the undies/training pants route didn't work at all for her. After we learned all about the potty I told her "we ran out of diapers", and we did go the naked route because it was easier, then I pointed out when her body was showing her she had to go and we did a trial run to the potty.


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