To us, the major goal of the Monster’s IEP isn’t necessarily to fully catch him up this year with his peers. It’s to get him ready for life in the real world without all of the supports he needs at the moment. This means socialization, expressive language… and toilet training.
(I warned my readers on Twitter yesterday that it was going to be one of those posts. If you too want warning, follow me at @DadEnoughBlog.)
What would be ideal to us would be developing his ability to tell us that he needs to go to the bathroom (or better, to go there himself and do his business, but at the moment, we’d settle for a request to be taken). It is one of his IEP goals for the year – and we’re grateful that we’re not the only ones who have to be working on this business – but there’s a difference of interpretation between us and the school as to what ‘letting people know’ signifies, between our wanting a verbal request and their simply wanting some sign he needs to go.
We do, now and again, get the verbal. The wife heard him ask on Saturday for a trip to the rest room while they were out shopping, and I’ve heard him ask me at least once here at home. It’s not by any means consistant, but it’s progress. More often, we have to watch for him doing what all parents know very well as the ‘pee pee dance’. That’s when your child’s hands slide between their legs and they wiggle around or jump up and down a bit. (When we’re really lucky, he goes over by the baby-gate that blocks the stairs down to the foyer and does it there, kind of like a dog asking to be let out.)
Of course, bear in mind that this is just talking about half of the potty-training. So far, we’ve primarily concentrated on making sure he doesn’t wet himself, since according to every therapist we’ve talked to, that’s the first goal and then you just kind of hope that he gets the gist with #2. Even the STARS program at Kennedy Krieger was fairly straight forward that there really aren’t any good ‘hints’ for how to handle the second issue with children with Autism, as much as there are suggested adaptations for the first part.
So, yesterday evening, we were home and having dinner, and he started doing the pee-pee dance, so I took him down to the powder room so he could use the toilet. The wife had mentioned that he’d not drunk a lot of liquid during the day – his milk from his lunch came home still full, though apparently he’d had it once he’d gotten home and was working on his homework, and he’d already gone before dinner – so she wasn’t quite sure what he was needing to do. He happily let me help him out of his pants and underwear and he plopped down on the potty seat… and sat there, tucking himself down.
“Are you going to pee on the toilet?” I asked him after about two minutes.
“Poop on the toilet,” replied he, and so he did.
What I think we’re seeing – and I’ll admit that it’s probably at least half wishful-thinking on my part – is that he’s finally starting to realize the sensations and is managing to hold it in, generally, until someone can (quickly) get him to the bathroom. I can only hope…
Of course, the next step is still getting him to signal in some socially appropriate manner (not the pee-pee dance) that he needs to go….