My friends, I am here to share that we are back on the potty train. (All aboard! Woowoo!) As you may recall, we first boarded the potty train in late September. We followed the protocol as established by Nate’s awesome lead teacher, Ms. Susie – Nate wore big boy underpants (which look much less charming after going through a bleach wash) and sat on the potty every thirty minutes (the time reset when Nate got off the potty and not when he sat down). When at home, Nate work a pull-up or diaper over his undies so as to not destroy our house, and we stopped about a half-hour before bedtime to give everyone a break. We also stopped potty training when we went out to eat in a restaurant or went grocery shopping because Nate conquering a public restroom is a whole other chapter.
Nate’s teachers/therapists and our family followed this protocol faithfully for five weeks. In five weeks’ time, we had nine wins and most of them were #2. (Those are the easiest because it’s so clear when Nate’s going so we just scoop him up and plop him on the potty.) And of the #1s, they were almost all first-thing-in-the-morning attempts (Nate’s diaper is dry overnight now) save for the very first #1, which happened at school. Ms. Julianne put Nate on the school potty and Nate did not want to go so he hollered. Loudly. So loudly that his abs engaged and he peed. Then he was really fascinated with what his body was doing. Poor Ms. Julianne was struggling between cheering for Nate, throwing jelly beans in his mouth, and getting him to not play with his pee.
What brought our potty training train to a screeching halt? Superstorm Sandy. When we lost power for a week, the temperature inside of our house fell to 55. No one can potty train in 55 degrees. Heck, no one can go to the bathroom at that temperature. Then we began to bounce between hotels nightly and it was too insane. The storm coupled with the fact that we had so few wins over five weeks caused us to pull the potty train into the station. In consultation with Ms. Susie, we agreed to start right around the New Year.
And we did! Nate had 1.5 weeks off for the winter break and we started potty training. Every half hour. Every exhausting half hour. Nate tried to go in his Cheer for Me Potty in the living room and he tried to go in the big boy potty upstairs. He tried. And then? He got sick and there was no way we could continue. So we stopped. Again. About a week later, we tried to restart but Nate wanted nothing to do with it. He kicked and screamed when he saw the Cheer for Me Potty. He tried to crawl off of the big boy potty and nearly fell in. It was as clear of a NO as Nate could muster. We didn’t want it to be a negative experience so we stopped. AGAIN.
This past Monday, we had our monthly team meeting during which Ms. Susie shares Nate’s progress on his IEP and we discuss things that concern us both. I brought up potty training and Susie felt that we should try again using the protocol we put in place in September both at school and at home. However, now that Nate wears ankle braces that cannot be washed (that’s a post for later), his underoos need be covered by a pull-up at all times so as to protect his braces. On Tuesday, Nate went to the potty every half-hour at school. That night, there was no hollering about sitting on the potty and I haven’t heard a holler since. In hindsight, I’m pretty sure Nate was trying to say, “THIS IS NOT A COORDINATED EFFORT, PEOPLE! GET IT TOGETHER!” Now that we have, the protestations are gone.
We haven’t had any wins yet and here’s the biggest reason why: Nate still doesn’t feel the wetness or, if he does, he doesn’t care. Even though there are many things in our favor, his sensory system is so different from us neurotypical folk that he doesn’t process the sensation. For example, Nate has spectacular bladder control. He wakes up dry, sits on the potty for 20 – 45 minutes and holds it, puts on a pull-up, and pees. Same with the tub: sits on the potty, holds it. Steps in the bathtub, pees. Poop, however, is a whole other issue. Nate knows when he’s going. He typically hides or gets himself wedged into the smallest space possible. If you try to pick him up, he swats you away because he needs Alone Time.
Despite all of our rehearsing, Nate doesn’t show any correlation between the potty and going to the bathroom. And I fear, as Ms. Susie has gently said numerous times, that it will take a year for our boy to figure this one out. Apparently, a year is not uncommon for kids with sensory processing issues like Nate. I must remember that this is a significant and important life skill. It should not be taken lightly and attention must be paid. Therefore, I shall be the Conductor of the Potty Train for the foreseeable future and possibly, in 2014, I may be able to say we have safely arrived at Success Station. Possibly.
Tuesday, Nate had a few accidents at school; on Wednesday, he had none! Yesterday he had three and I’ll get today’s report, which comes in the form of a baggie of wet undies in his backpack, shortly. Everyone. Send us vibes for a win because I think we’re going to need one soon to keep the steam in this train going….!
If you’re wondering why the photographs are of Nate organizing oranges, it’s because I couldn’t find any subject-appropriate photos of my dear boy. No one wants pictures of themselves sitting on a potty, no matter how ridiculously cute, floating around out there on the internet….