One of the first things I heard after Simon got diagnosed was that potty training kids on the spectrum was no picnic.
At the time, he was two and already showing interest in the potty, following his brother and sister into the bathroom and even peeing in the little chair occasionally. Like so many things that come to bite me in the ass later, I sighed with premature, naive relief.
Fast forward to four, almost five, and he’s still not trained. After spending most of last year wearing underpants (and soiling them as many as four times a day), I decided we should take a break. Everyone was getting frustrated, though we have been very positive in the little guy’s presence. Accidents have always been met with “That’s OK! We’re still learning! Keep trying!”
But there are only so many turds you can scrape into the toilet before you need a break. He just wasn’t getting it, and he became increasingly resistant to using the bathroom at all. And he’d still never said — not once! — that he had to go potty. I think there is so much bombarding his senses all the time that the subtle feeling of having a full bladder doesn’t register.
So I sold him on wearing pullups, and we spent a summer free from wet pants and piles of laundry. I felt a little guilty about it, but mostly it was a relief for both of us.
So when he insisted yesterday morning on wearing underpants, I groaned, picturing the messes and fights over using the toilet. I was right, sort of.
I was firm and told him he couldn’t wear underpants unless he peed in the potty. We set a timer that went off every thirty minutes and he went at least nine times yesterday. He got a (STAR WARS!! or SPONGE BOB!! or TRANSFORMERS!!) sticker for each time he did. The stickers were stuck to a chart. After three stickers, he got a prize from the prize bin I refilled with a hasty trip to Target.
He had one minor pee accident.
But he still absolutely refuses to poop on the potty. “It’s SCARY!!!”
And I still don’t think he knows if he has to go or not.
I’ve heard of lots of kids (even those not on the spectrum) being afraid of potty pooping. But most of them hold it in and let go only when wearing a diaper or pullup.
Not my little man. He’ll drop one in his undies (twice yesterday, for the record) and deny it’s even there.
I guess, like so many things with his disorder, I’m going to have to roll with it and take his cues.
I just hope it doesn’t take a few more years. I’ve heard 7 or 8 years old is not uncommon. Gulp.