Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A Tale of Two Potties

Why, hello!  It's been such a long time since I last updated; perhaps once you read this you will understand why I've been absent from the blogging world......

It has been a bit chaotic around here lately.  My patience has been pushed to the limit more than I care to think about.  Our boys will be five in February and our last big goal for them as preschoolers was for them to be toilet-trained, and if I can be totally honest here, after over four years (x2 boys), diapers/Pullups really stink (pun intended)!!  Aside from the importance of this crucial self-help skill for social situations and self-esteem, momma is just ready already!

 I have no idea how we could have been successful and survived with our sanity intact, if not for their lead teacher, Mrs. Nicole.  She is amazing...just call her the Potty Whisperer!  Aidan was, for all practical purposes, potty trained at about four years old.  Not at all unusual for kids on the spectrum, although many train on schedule with their neuro-typical peers, while others take much longer. down, one to go!  Right?  Well, not exactly...

When he moved up to the Butterfly class at Mitchell's Place this past August, Aidan still refused to potty at school--bless his heart, he would hold it all day until I got there to pick him up and he would go in the bathroom by the school's entrance.  He said he couldn't go in the class.  Nicole decided she would work on Aidan first to get him totally independent in this skill at school before turning her attention to Andrew.  The first step was for me to take Aidan into the Butterfly's potty in the afternoon.  I held him on there for 30 minutes or so--with him screaming and having a total come-apart.  That was very difficult; Nicole knew I was almost to the point of tears and just kept reassuring me that I was doing the right thing.  Next step was each afternoon for a week, Nicole went with us to the public bathroom at the front of the school and would stand at the door; I would go in with Aidan and let him potty to get him comfortable with her being there.  The next week, she and I swapped until eventually, she had him pottying in the classroom with me nowhere in sight.  Success!  This gave him such confidence in so many areas (it caused a real growth spurt for him socially) and eliminated nearly all poop accidents.  Aidan wanted to learn this skill, he just needed to be taught differently how to do so and lead in such a way to build up his self-esteem.

I'm not sure if there's ever been a set of twins more opposite in appearance and personality than Aidan and Andrew, and toilet training would prove no different.  In mid-October, after various attempts by us at home failed to get us anywhere close to having Andrew potty-trained, we said bye-bye to Pullups and got on a specific schedule of drinking fluids/sitting on the potty (timer set for 5 mins.), and armed ourselves with a massive jar of M&M's.  When that did not yield results, Nicole tailored a Pullup fading protocol that had been developed by another MP mom for her son.  Kelly, you rock, girl... I owe you one!  :)  I never stop learning from these Special moms; they're such a valuable resource.

Nicole told me this would be a slow process.  Great, I thought, would he even be trained by five??  I completely trusted in her knowledge and we would follow everything she told us.  This protocol started with sitting Andrew on the potty (in a Pullup) EVERY hour for five minutes.  When the design in the front started fading, I would immediately praise and reward with M&M's.  Each time, I would record on a data sheet if we had success or not.  In order to "get" that success and reinforce it (reward with candy), I literally stayed in the bathroom with him for an hour and forty-five minutes one time before he peed!  As you can imagine, this takes huge chunks out of an evening; the whole family is involved in this.  I hated it, quite honestly, but it HAD to be done.  Andrew had to have success in each phase before moving on to the other, eventually going to Pullups with holes cut in the front.  It was at this time, that he started doing things in his own way, telling Nicole "no more Pullups", and she allowed him to break protocol and that was the first day he went all day without Pullups on and stayed dry!  That was on T.J.'s birthday.  Although this was huge, I still had to take him every hour, fill out data sheets, keep a supply of M&M's and Skittles, and deal with the occasional accident.

The very next weekend, we went ahead with our plan to travel to Tennessee for a visit with family (Tom's idea.  I'm ashamed to say, if left up to me, we would have just stayed home.  Glad we didn't.)  Armed with data sheets, candy, extra clothes, and towels (we were not at the "working on our aim" stage yet--I needed a way to stay dry!), we made the drive and stopped at many of the gas stations along the way.  Nicole was very impressed and I got extra points on Monday!

Finally, the week before Thanksgiving, we stopped taking data because Andrew was staying dry/pottying consistently all day every day!!!  And he also decided, on his own, to stand up like a big boy.  We are still having to work on being consistent with pooping on the potty, but that's okay.  I'll take it.   It's just where we are now, and it's great!

If any of you have kept yourself awake long enough to read this whole thing, thanks.  You now have some idea what fun it was to live it!  Ha ha!  There is much more interesting stuff out there to read, I know, and I'm batting my eyes now trying to finish this post, but I'm so happy to finally be able to do so!

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