There comes a point in every child’s life that there has to be a drastic change made to the daily procedure. It usually involves that point where parents are getting majorly frayed and tired of the status quo, and where it’s time for the child to start taking more responsibility for themselves.
No, I’m not talking college graduation and moving out into the world, or even high school graduation and getting ready for college. I’m talking toilet training.
When we were expecting the Monster, we started reading up on what the milestones were, and what to expect when we finally had a little human being running around our house. Even after we started getting an inkling that there were things that weren’t quite perfect with our son, we were still looking for those same milestones.
First, we were told that he had to be able to jump for the muscles to be sufficiently developed. We read that you had to look for awareness in the child that they need to use the bathroom. An ability to express wishes, and interest in the toilet itself. And, of course, the ability to dress and undress themselves. Since the Monster doesn’t show all those traits (and indeed, some of these are very recent and some still don’t exist), we had kind of kept putting off toileting, chalking it up to another thing that ASD was delaying besides his speech and some motor function.
Fortunately for us, we live in Baltimore near the Kennedy Krieger Institute, which is a good resource for parents of autistic kids, and they run a seminar program on a monthly basis for these parents. And last month, they had a program on teaching toileting skills to autistic children, which I attended. (This rotating series of seminars, STAR, is really very helpful, for any parent in the area who hasn’t checked them out yet and is in the same boat as us.) One of the most critical things that I learned at the seminar is that there’s really no point in waiting for all of those “prerequisites”, since many of those skills are in general weak areas for autistic children, and it’s better to start and bear in mind that it’s going to be a long process. According to the research, high-functioning autistic children take over a year to teach toileting, and can take up to two years – it’s going to be a good while, we fear, before he’s out of diapers.
We decided, based on the seminar, to start potty training last week. It’s been sporadic – we’re trying to keep to a schedule, but it’s been hit or miss for the moment. Our efforts have been complicated by two real issues – the training potty that the wife bought (way back when) is too small for our rather enormous Monster, and the smaller seat-cover that she’d purchased to ease the fears of sitting over an open hole over water doesn’t fit right on our oblong toilet seats. But, all these aside… once we have him on the toilet, and he’s done fighting getting there, he’s up to two minutes sitting at a time (yes, with a bribe), so that’s an advance.
Now, if we could just get him to go number one while sitting there, so we could start working towards cutting back on the diapers…