Master Potty Jedi

masterpottyjedi

Well, the 5yo did it!  It’s official, folks.   He has now mastered the potty.  I know the last couple of posts have been a little on the more serious side and that you can probably tell my heart is hurting quite a bit.  Well, 2013 has got to be our year because after nearly 2 years of fruitless potty training, our 5 yo son is not using the potty completely.

If you want to read how the victory started… check out my last post Tootsie Roll Factory Working Again! Thanks, Homeschooling.

I couldn’t believe that on March 4th I could be putting him in underwear, but the day after the post went up we tried it.  He has been in underwear for TWO WEEKS!  3 small pee accidents for waiting too long, and 2 poop accidents for being sick (I don’t really count those, but for posterity I list them 😉 LOL!).

Before all of this happened he used to complain about the “bad feelin’s”.  He would say things like “I don’t not

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Tootsie Roll Factory Working Again! Thanks, Homeschooling.

Homeschool Started

Last Monday, we started up Homeschool again.  We are still waiting on some evaluations, but I thought it would be good for all of us to get some schooling in.  We were getting SO bored!!!  Homeschooling has been so difficult for me because I just didn’t have the ability to understand or create my own lesson plans.  I’ve had people recommend curricula, but none of them had the lesson plans written out.  The ones that did, were RIDICULOUSLY expensive (some being $900). I’m positive that I have some kind of a learning disability and I’ve struggled with the organizing of information all of my life.  Trying to take different subjects and create lesson plans for them was not overwhelming, it was IMPOSSIBLE.

My second college degree is in Theater Education and I always got horrible scores on my lesson plans.  I just couldn’t understand how to take all of the information I ‘knew’ and put it into an organized plan.  One lesson at a time wasn’t too hard when I knew what the teacher wanted me to say, but the unit long ones would give me horrible headaches.  This is why I don’t like chess!  You have to know where you’re going and most people know that I never know where I’m going. LOL!  I spent hours researching curricula online and it was all very confusing and expensive.  I spent 8 hours one day trying to save money on a curricula by looking for some of the materials at the library, ebay, amazon etc. and creating a Spreadsheet to organize my findings.  The result, I would save $24 off of a $800 purchase.  I spent a full day’s work to save $24?!?!?!  If I were getting paid to be a Stay At Home Mom, I just lost $60 that day. DAG-NIT!!!!

Then, one morning I woke up and I just knew exactly what I needed to do.  I knew that I needed to get curricula that had the lesson plans in them… duh.  However, the miraculous understanding came in how those plans, units, concepts, standards and objectives all lined up!!!! I’ve been praying and praying and praying and then… POOF!  I got it.  I can tell you dozens of stories of how God has given me miraculous understanding in things that were seemingly impossible and where I had NO help.  So, here we are and I was a good week! No boredom, fighting, strife, or whining.

The biggest thing that happened was the 5yo started put his poop in the potty. ALL. WEEK. LONG.  That’s right, parents!  The day after we started school again, the toilet seat started going up on it’s own.  At first, I was creeped out (watching too many paranormal investigation shows I suppose). Then, sanity said, “that’s your son using the toilet…Nerd.”  I’m sorry, but that is not a sound that we are used to hearing around here.  He’s only had a few accidents. One major blowout, at his Uncle and Aunt’s that required a shower… heheheheh… sorry guys…. Other than that, he’s been accident free and has given Butt Birth to some of the most amazing turds!  I’m so proud of him.  This is the longest record he’s held in almost TWO years!  TWO YEARS!!!!!  All of the withholding and constipation and fear and complaints have all but disappeared.  He tells me… “no mom, i want to do it all by myself. I’ll call when I need you.”  What a grown up thing to say!  I think he might be ready for underwear… omg… underwear….  UNDERWEAR!!!!  This is like the Holy Grail of Potty Training!!!!

We’ve been doing the Miralax regime for 18 months and it was the same cycle: gets impacted, give him Miralax, cleaned out, withholds, gets impacted again even though he’s on Miralax.  I still think that he has some sensory problems and physical problems that are hindering him because he’s explained that he cant feel his poop.  But it seems he’s found something that is working for him and he’s going for it!  We’ve been showering him with rewards!!!

For any of you who are interested in our full Potty Training Journey, start from the beginning by reading Let’s Talk About Poop Logs.  You can find the link in the side bar under the “Potty Training” category. Believe me when I say that we have tried everything under the sun and nothing has worked.  He literally started doing this on his own with no motivation at all.  Something just clicked and he’s working with it.  I dont want to say his problem is cured.  It’s not.  He is working with what he has found successful and trying, but I feel that he is building his self confidence right now and I’m not going to doubt in front of him.  I just treat him like he’s succeeded.  If he reverts backwards, I wont dispair and I wont discourage him.  We’ll just keep doing what we have been… going with the flow… or lack there of 😉

The Potty Gremlin Sabotage

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I’m convinced that we must have a Potty Gremlin throwing its evil wrenches in the works of our Potty Training Journey.  Yesterday I posted about my frustration with how I was treated about James’ allergies but I didn’t even get to write about the POOP conversation I had with the  doctor.

Two weeks ago I was given the information of a woman whose 6yo boy experienced the similar sensory issues and the same problem my son has with potty training.  I contacted her and she told me her story via email.  I couldn’t believe it!  Not only could she relate but she had found something that was successful.  It was suggested to her that she try Biofeedback to help her son and her son has been fully bowel trained for weeks now!

I’ve used Biofeedback to help with bladder issue I sustained from a difficult pregnancy as well as a congenital issue.  I was amazed out how this changed my life!  It’s not often heard of or understood but it is the closest thing to a miracle drug you can get.  Biofeedback uses electricity to help your muscles contract.  It strengthens them and teaches your brain how to use them again. I can’t believe I havent thought of this before.  If they can do it for your bladder, why couldn’t they do it for the bowel too?!

I brought this up to the Pediatrician yesterday after the whole allergy thing went down.  I told him that after 18 months of constipation and impaction, 12 of which he’s been on Miralax daily, that I wanted to try the Biofeedback and get a referral to a Developmental Pediatrician.  Here’s where the Gremlin comes in, the Doctor didn’t buy it.  We are on the verge of finding something that could change our tender-hearted son’s life and give him some real victory and we get sidelined.  *Deep Breath* So! He ordered an X-ray because he was positive James was impacted with stool.  I agreed that he probably was, but I still insisted that the reason he is impacted is because he doesn’t know “how” to push his POOP out.

The doctor insisted that it was his Impaction causing the desensitization.  I’ve done a lot of reading and understand the facts about Impaction and it symptoms.  However, James is different and has had bowel problems from the day he was born.  The withholding is a new thing and doesn’t explain all the constipation and Impaction from before that.  I just know the cause of his problems is the lack of muscle control and I’m so tired of being given the run around.

His X-ray showed that he WAS impacted.  Surpriiiiiise! not….  I AM surprised that a simple request for a referral for Biofeedback is treated like a request for a blood-letting. *whew*  I just kept a smile on my face and said thank you and took my son for the X-ray thinking “I’ll just jump through the hoops so that I seem compliant and then they’ll give me what I want.”  Wrong again.  Instead they told me to give him Miralax… I’ve been giving him 1/2 Cap full of Miralax every day for the last 12 MONTHS. That’s not the answer to the long-term problem.  Now we have to do this for another month before we can bring it up again.

I also have to wait until December 10th 2013 in order to see a Developmental Pediatrician. Not surprised by the wait, but the hope of James being potty trained is constantly being discouraged.  We try to keep things light around here but he’s starting to be defeated by the potty.  He doesn’t even want to sit on it or talk about it. I hate the bureaucracy of the system.  “Do “A”, then do “B”, don’t forget “C D E F G” and when we run out of letters there’s an infinite amount of NUMBERS!”  Can I please just get a referral?!?!?!

All of that whining to say this:

ASK YOUR PEDIATRICIAN ABOUT BIOFEEDBACK

LOL! I certainly hope you all have better success with your doctors.  Please pray for me and James.  We are so weary from this.  I just need to be patient and calm, understanding and forgiving.  ❤

Yep. Its that time. O’Frizz:30 pm!

My second son at 7mos!

My second son at 7mos!

Yes indeed, it IS that hour of the day when my hair represents my state of mind.  I feel like I’m about to explode 😛 Pthbbbb!

I am having a very discouraging week so far. I’ve been sick with another random fever. No other symptoms. I thought it was the flu but it wasn’t. Just another FUO (Fever of Unknown Origin). Yep. It’s a real thing.

Also…

Our eldest is almost 5 now and he’s the sweetest little man. He is very caring and friendly but has been having a hard time making new friends at church. All of his friends ADORE him but I think the new kids are intimidated by his self confidence… maybe? They seem put off with how comfortable he is this new situation. I’m not sure exactly what it is, but its hard when he says the other kids wont play with him.

His potty training is halted again and we spoke to a Child Psychologist who recommended that we talk to our Pediatrician about the poop issue. I reminded her that we have been dealing with this for 18 months now and even his Dr is at a loss. Im feeling so desperate!  She was helpful and encouraging in stating that his particular disorder, Postural Ocular Disorder (a subtype of Sensory Processing Disorder), is a low incident and rare disorder so there are not a lot “how to’s” about it. Well at least I know I’m not going crazy when I spend hours on the internet to find nothing!  However, its very hard when your little guy is reaching this huge milestone of life and still cant use the potty.

She also suggested we look into sending him to Public School and having him enrolled in Special Education.  My mind immediately went back in time to when I was in school and Special Ed was for kids with mental retardation and severe physical/mental disabilities!  I tried not to freak out and reassure myself that it’s been, like, 30 years since I was 5yo and that Special Ed has probably changed.  But inside, my heart was just breaking.  I couldn’t help it.  I was thinking that his life would be over if he went to public school NOW.  All of his sweetness, self confidence and esteem would be stolen from him by the taunting children who hate all things different.  Did I mention I was kind of freaking out inside? I did. Okay.

So anyway, I’m having a discouraging week.  I’m not worried that he won’t get better.  I’m sad that its come to this.  A reevaluation of all of our plans and a change of heart towards what we desire.  It’s not bad… it’s sad.  I want to homeschool, but I’m afraid to homeschool.  Now that it may not be best for him to be homeschooled, I want to homeschool more!  weird… I know. I’m remembering all the hurtful laughs and not understanding where they came from.  I was defenseless and didn’t have anyone to teach me about socialization, but my son isn’t defenseless.  I’ve been through it all and come out stronger on the other side.  I’ve been able to see my mistakes in school (socially) and learn from them.  He’ll be so much better off than me.  I’m still freaking out and there doesn’t seem to be a lot of hope about the situation, but that means there’s a little bit of hope.  And God can do a lot with a little bit!

Whew! I can feel my hair starting to settle down now 😉

Celebrating The Yuletide Poop Log!

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We have had a major victory here in the last two weeks in our Potty Training!  Two week ago last friday our 4.5yo, who has been having an amazingly difficult mastering bowel training, walked into the bathroom independently an put his poop in the potty.

Some of you might be thinking, “Um, yeah, that’s what 4.5yo’s do.” or “big whoop” or “so what?” If you are, then you haven’t been keeping up around here 😉  LOL!  Let me tell you, until you have a child that cant use the potty you just don’t understand how hard life can be.  Especially if that child is a withholder.  Its a whole ‘nother level of frustration… for everyone.  Just count your blessings and rejoice with us!

I couldn’t believe it when I I heard the bathroom door open, the toilet lid go up, silence, then a loud “Mommy! I did it! I did it!!!”  I ran in there to find him sitting there with a large Yuletide Poop Log in the toilet and a totally clean diaper.  Not even the faintest Bacon Mark. (sorry for the Bacon blaspemy… it was term I heard as a child and it stuck).  What a victory for him!

Now it was important for him to start his Pee training again.  We took things really slow and had an entire week of success, followed by a week of constipation and accidents, then two days of independent toilet use!  This is incredible!  I am so happy for my little guy and his success.  Most importantly, I’m happy for his condifence.

Thank you all for your support, prayers, thoughts, helpful advice, patience, concern and hope!  Things are looking better this time of year and we are incredibly grateful!  Love all of you!

On a side note, there have been several people who have been helping me find myself these last six months and I’m so thankful for them.  But there is one person who I really admire.  She’s a nursing mom, with 3 kids and a love and talent for playing video games.  She is also a positive force in a culture that can be elitest and I admire her and love her with all my heart.  She’s been a virtual friend in the Twittervese and FaceBookdom and though I’ve never met her, her honesty and caring nature has inspired me.  She has helped me to resolve my identity issues simply by being herself.  I just wanted to thank you here, Carrie (@Keeba13).  Cyber-hugs to you from your Virtual friend who is virtually unknown to you, but admires you immensely.  I wish the best of weeks and the Happiest of Christmas’.

❤ Jen 😉

The Mystery Poop Log

MysteryPoop

I know I talk a lot about poop, but right now… THATS my life.  I walked in the door today and the entire house smelled like a dirty bathroom in a Mexican Restaraunt!  I’m not being racist, it literally smelled like burritos and turds.  Appartently both the kids had poopy diapers for a while before I came home and the burritos we had eaten for lunch smoldered from the decaying process in the trash.  It was eye watering!  The smell extraction process should have required a hazmat team but I really didn’t feel our crisis required government intervention.  So I did it myself!  All the trashes were taken out, kids changed, and the mother of all oil burners was lit.  Yet as I sit here at my computer, I smell it.  I can smell a poop.  It is only right near my computer….In front of my face.  When I look down I expect to see it sitting on the tab key, but no.  It’s The Mystery Poop Log.  It’s haunting me with it’s appetite killing aroma and I can feel my hair falling out as the stress builds.  Sigh…I can’t wait for the day when my house smells like it should… POOP FREE!

A New Life Makeover

Over the last several months I have gone though some ups and some downs.  Really big downs.  I felt like I wasn’t going anywhere, I wasn’t doing anything of value, and that I was bored out of my mind.  Through the help of my wonderful friends I have since been able to shake off that depression and begin to ACT.  For one thing, I needed to forget all of the insanity the world has to offer in all of its negativity.  One of my best friends told me that it really pained them to see how others has stolen my joy because that was not who I was or was created to be.  She really helped me see that I needed to repent for agreeing with those people and to forgive them.  I’ve since been freed from those painful words, looks, scoffs and other insensitivities.

Now that I wasn’t holding on to the weight those words carried, I felt that I needed to address this attitude of self worth. Having the ability to stay home and raise a family is a blessing.  Not everyone feels that way or even respects that.  But for me, it is an absolute blessing.  So why didn’t I see it that way anymore?  Why did a feel like the wife no one would want to come home to or the mom that every kid would be happy to leave? I just felt like I didn’t matter and to be honest, I wasn’t satisfied with the whole “you’re a mom, that’s your job for the next 18-25 years.”  That sounded horribly mundane to me especially since we are going to homeschool the kids.  Even with field trips, play dates and all kinds of outtings, I felt trapped.  Enslaved even!

The BOREDOM is unbelieveable.  Don’t get me wrong.  I am busy!  Really busy!  But its the repetitive mundane busy that grinds the brain down into a powdery mush.  That was the last straw.  The straw that catapulted me into a full blown depression.  Not just the blues, but a full on pajama wearing, no showering mess!  I stayed there awhile, even after that wonderful talk with my Bestie.  It was better that I didn’t have hurtful memories weighing me down but I was still bored and ungrateful.

So I did something about it!  I talked to SuperHubby about redoing our finances and finding money that we were just blowing and doing something fun and healthy with it.  We talked a lot over the last month and we are going to get a cleaning service once a month!  I actually love to clean and I think I’m good at it, but with the responsibility homeschooling (which is nonexistant at the moment) and all the others stuff that I need to do to keep healthy, cleaning is just overwhelming.  Having those extra hours will allow me to worry less about chores and focus on schooling the boys.

Next, we joined a gym!!!! Im so excited about this because I desperately need to workout and play.  So do the kids. They don’t nearly get enough exercise.  The gym has a Kids Klub with crazy fun things for them to climb on and play with!  So while I’m working out and laughing with the ladies, theyll be running themselves tired.  Which means they’ll be hungrier and actually want to eat the food I serve them 😉

I’m also planning on eliminating certain tempation food from the house and start eating healthier.  I love to bake and I hate to cook.  I really really really HATE it.  So some things need to change there.  I have found some great baking recipes for healthy eating and I’m so thankful that its cold now because that means it SOUP SEASON!  Lots of great healthy choices there 😀  So we’re on our way to a whole new life.

I wrote down a list of all things I’m expected to be: Beautiful Wife, Loving Mom, Good Friend, Perfect Teacher, Tidy Housekeeper, Healthy Chef, Potty Training Expert, Dishwasher, Launderer, Gardener, Adventure Provider, Shopping Expert, Workout Specialist, Savvy Financer.

I have found that i cannot reasonably be great at any of these! There is too many to juggle.  So I’ve taken those expectations are rewritten them to be more pracitcal and I still can’t do it all.  There are so many things that suffer especially my marriage.   So I don’t feel bad for asking for help with house or paying a little extra money to have fun getting in shape!  Life was meant to be lived humbly and with lots of fun and adventure!

 

Up To My Ears In Turds

 

 

Well the summer and early fall have been one incredible ride here and I’m so happy that those yucky months are behind us!  I’m so sorry that I haven’t posted in awhile, but I wasn’t able to bring myself to write anything of substance.  Anything I wrote would have read like a 5yo whining.  Depression has really had a hold of me and has been a terrible obstacle between me and my family.  I have been absolutely desperate to overcome it and battle it head-on every day.  The most defeating part of it all is seeing how much it hurts the kids.  Through my impatience, lack of joy, immobility, and anger I have caused them damage.  I have had to apologize every day to them and cover them with love and cuddles in hopes that I can bandage their emotional bruises.  I’ve certainly been blessed with a wonderful forgiving family and supportive friends.  Without them I would not have been able to get through this.  Thank you!

And now I want to talk about TURDS.  I want to revisit my monologue on Potty Training children with Sensory Integration Disorder/ Sensory Processing Disorder.  For six months now, we all have been put through the wringer and the most affected member is our 4yo son.  As I mentioned before in my previous posts, he has been withholding. (If you haven’t read Lets Talk About Poop Logs and Crap Mastery and The Potty Training Push, you wont have the whole story, but this post should be able to stand on its own. Though, I encourage you to read those first as they give details on the problems we are having.)  It was getting better and there were even several weeks where he was going poop all by himself.  It was looking good… then, he just decided he wasn’t going to poop anymore.  So for the last two weeks I’ve been up to ears in turds.  Turd nuggets, turd snakes, turd smears on his clothes and all over the bathroom and turd SMELL.  My precious 4yo boy SMELLS like TURDS constantly.  That’s heartbreaking for a parent.  My child smells like poop and his friends say “Somebody smells like POOOP!” or “Somebody STINKS!” or “What’s that smell?”  Don’t misunderstand me.  His friends adore him!  He is their favorite friend, in fact, because he is sweet, fun, tender, caring and loving.  Everyone loves him!  But it hurts when you think that making NEW friends will be hard especially since they might not have been taught how to be accepting, forgiving and understanding.  So… it hurts.  A LOT.

In Honor of Tanis Miller @redneckmommy , she and her daughter are always making this face LOL!

There are a lot of problems with his potty training but the biggest obstacle is ME.  Because of my own weakness and thanklessness (is that a word?…hmmm, too lazy to look it up. Dont judge me!)… because of those things, I have discouraged and confused my son.  He is behind in his communication and language developement which makes it nearly impossible for him to tell me what is going on or how he’s feeling or communicating his understanding of a concept.  I have spent a lot of time blameshifting and attacking others, mainly professionals and authors… sorry 😦 , but when it comes down to it, I’m responsible for him.  It’s my fault I haven’t done all the reading.  It’s my fault I haven’t called enough people for chatted online with the experts.  I’m not one of those moms who have literally talked to everyone they can and read everything they can get their hands on.  If you are one of those moms, I apologize for diminishing your plight through my complaints and I applaud you for being the kind of mom “I” want to be.

I had a serious meltdown on Friday.  I mean, a full-on cussing, screaming, crazy ass mom meltdown where everyone in the house was left thinking, “where’s the tranquilizer gun? I thought I put it in the coat closet after her last trip to Effed-Upville.”  The best part was we were about to add 4 more kiddos to the mix for the evening as were going to babysit for our Brother and Sister-In-Law.  I’m supposed to be creating a warm loving environment and instead I’m acting like a mad-woman running a round the house with  underwear on her head weilding a banana and sing-screaming “It’s A Small World.” Nothing says “WELCOME” like a psychotic episode.

In my panic and rage I sat down at the computer and typed in “children withholding incontinence” and there were a DOZEN articles written by Pediatricians about this very issue.  In all my searches (at least 100) I had never thought to type these three words into the search bar?!?!?!?! The answer was staring at me in the face!  I had even purchased a book months and months ago and never got around to reading it because I was just so overwhelmed.  Why was I so angry with everyone else when it was up to me to find the answer.  So…. I read the article.

My Misconception – Our son isn’t constipated because he is pooping everyday, even to the point where his poop is leaking out.

“Fecal incontinence is almost always associated with constipation. Constipation is associated with hard, large stools in the rectum which become difficult and painful to evacuate, often leading to withholding of stools. The lower colonic segment becomes gradually distended with accumulated stool. The urge to defecate becomes irregular because of a decrease in rectal sensation. A vicious cycle ensues. When the rectum becomes sufficiently distended, softer stool arriving from the more proximal colon cannot be accommodated and leaks around the bolus of hard stool. Because of the lack of sensation in the distended distal colon, this passage of soft stool (overflow) is not sensed by the child until incontinence has actually transpired.” – OMAN Medical Journal

My Super Classy Interpretation – Large turds bunch up near the butthole.  The intestine bulges, making the butthole numb. The child cant feel the urge to poop because of the numbing sensation which causes more poop to bunch up. When the butthole get stretched enough (due to the large amount of turds in the large intestine), softer slimier poop leaks around the large impacted turds and seeps out into the kids underwear/pullups.  Because their butthole is numb, they don’t know they’ve had an accident.

THIS EXPLAINS EVERYTHING! I can’t believe our pediatrician didn’t explain this to me.  He just kept saying he was constipated.  “But he’s pooping everyday!!!!!”, I thought to myself.  Now I know. Finally, a real answer.  The article goes on to give a solution to the problem.  NOTE: The article’s solution/program is only for children with no medical condition/illness/disease, nor for the child with abnormal psychological issues.  As our family follows this program/solution there might not be full success because of his Sensory Issues, but it will solve his constipation problem and restore confidence and trust that pooping is not supposed to be a trauma! Yay!

So we started him on a three day treatment of laxatives (Pedia-Lax Chewable Tablets), then we will give him his readjusted dose of Miralax (per doctor’s instructions), and incorporate a diligent schedule of sitting on the potty for 5 minutes everyday after breakfast.  He will eventually sit on the potty for 5 minutes, three times a day, after meals.  This will help his intestines and rectum to shrink back to normal size and regain their sensation.  It is a 6 month haul so we are tightening our suspenders, adjusting our bowties, and putting on our fezes!  If only we had a TARDIS so I could go back in time and change my approach.  Oh well, I supposed I wouldn’t be able to revisit my own timeline anyway!

Our Little Man at 2 months old, holding SuperDaddy’s hand

I have high hopes for our little man and for myself.  If I can admit my mistakes and repent to my kids, trust can be restored.  I hope the article in the OMAN Medical Journal can help other parents/caregivers out there who are feeling equally desperate.  The answers are out there, sometimes.  And it’s those “sometimes” that can change the course of a persons journey.  Good Luck this week and know that you are greatly loved!

Kindergarten!!!

I think I just experienced a blogging hangover!  My last two posts took two whole days to write and I felt like I certainly gave people enough to read.  It was at least a weeks worth LOL!  Sorry for the long gap, though.

UPDATE:  JEM is doing great with his potty training. We are on a plateau right now and I realize that’s not a bad thing.  He’s getting the basics down and I’m really proud of him.  We always look at plateau’s like they are some kind of report card to our parents about the one subject we’re sucking at.  But plateaus are good, man!  Hey if you’ve lost 40 and you are plateauing right now, here’s what you need to do.  Stop, take a deep breath, look in the mirror and feel dam proud of your accomplishment because, lets face it, you look good! Plateaus give a us a freaking break from all the climbing we just did on that Mount Everest Challenge we just did.  God wants us to have a break, enjoy our accomplishment and bask in His grace.  Now when I say “Plateau”, you say “Ho!”  “Plateau!” *pause for audience participation* “Plateau!” *pause* Awwww Yeah! The 90’s were dope, yo. 😉

Shout out to you, Machie! 40 pounds total lost weight!!!! w00t!

             

After a break to get things in order, we have now started Kindergarten! w00t

We got the school room glitter proofed, organized and a bunch of schooly stuff purchased.  I thought we were going to be more prepared on Monday for JEM’s first day, but we weren’t. The beauty of homeschooling! And I wanted it to be a memorable day for him, but I’m just not great at that kind of thing.  Turns out it was pretty memorable for him without pancakes in the morning and special lunch box (that he requested).  He was so excited to do his new online Kindergarten that he forgot to care about anything else… whew. 🙂

As I read other blogger’s send their little kiddos out the door for their first days of Kindergarten, my heart just burst for them.  It’s such a tender time in a parent’s life and such a huge step for the little ones.  I really admire their honesty about what that process was like for them.  I’m really glad that I am not going to experience those emotions.  I’d be laying on the floor in a puddle of my own snot and tears.  How parents keep it together in front of the children is an absolute miracle.  You go guys!  Again, I am really glad I’m not going to go through that.

We’ve always wanted to homeschool our kids but as we got closer to school age, my thoughts wavered back and forth.  Mainly out of my insecurity about being a good teacher. I also thought about all the things they would miss out on.  That first bus ride, the first sack lunch, the first story time, first music or PE class, the first homework assignment.  Then I thought about it again, he’d also miss out on the first criticism, the first tease, all the insecurity and all of the time waisted waiting around.  Overall, homeschooling him is best for them.  Especially for JEM. He already shows so much confidence and I’m thankful for him.  I am greatly convicted by those firsts that he’ll miss, though.  It’s my job to make sure that his school experience is just as fun and memorable as those who are schooled publicly.  So….. HERE WE GOOOOOO!

Crap Mastery and The Potty Training Push

I understand that there is a movement to avoid the word “training” when referring to learning to use the potty.  I respect the reasons why, but just so we are all on the same page and because that’s what the book I will be referring to calls it, I am going to call it Potty Training.  Maybe you like to call it “potty learning” or “toilet training” or “Crap Mastery”… whatever you like, please feel free to insert your personal choice when reading this 🙂

Also, if you have not read the previous post, Lets Talk About Poop Logs: Our Potty Training Struggle, please stop here and read that first.  Otherwise you’ll be more lost than I was when I started watching LOST in season 2.  Seriously, I was like “What the heck is going on?!” Point is, I had to go back and watch season 1.

This will be long! So feel free to break it up over your lunch break for the next couple of days LOL ;).  I had wanted to post a more detailed account of our experience before, but decided a lighter approach would be better. After receiving comments about my post, I decided to do a follow up. My first post, Lets Talk About Poop Logs, was to just say “Hey, you’re not crazy and you’re not alone.” Now I want to give you a real account of our journey so you can see how “not by the book” (even though we were using a book) our experience was.  This is mainly inspired by a woman on a thread I had been commenting on about Lets Talk About Poop Logs.  She had brought up the very  important fact that putting kids with physical limitations on a schedule can cause more damage than good.  I wholeheartedly agree.  We experienced the same problem with JEM.  Her testimony brought up the negative side of what I call “THE POTTY TRAINING PUSH” or TPTP. So I decided to write this to clarify some things I referenced in the book, The Potty Journey and to give you a detailed look at our approach.

There is a huge cultural pressure to potty train our children at a young age.  I have known parents who started their kids on the potty at 18 months and have agonized over how long it took.  Its not their intention, but their complaints have been discouraging because I felt they were diminishing the true struggle of potty training a child with a physical disability. I’m going to speak boldly now *takes deep breath*, so prepare yourself for some admonition parents.  If you have decided to potty train your kid at 18 months and they are struggling and not finding success…it’s going to take a long time.  You have a “choice”, though.  You can choose to stop and start again when they are ready.  So for a parent who is struggling against a real disability combined with a lack of support and information to understand what that disability means, how it affects the child and how to resolve the situation, listening to that “whining” (for lack of a more sensitive word) is really painful.  Its not that we don’t care about your discomfort, its just comes across as not being grateful.  You have a choice.  We don’t.  So don’t get sucked into the The Potty Training Push and just let go!  Be free to do what’s best for you and your kids and stop the madness in your life.  You deserve peace. Lets face it, very few babies are ready to use the potty in a completely autonomous nature at 18 months.  Yes, “BABIES”.  Babies are considered to be “BABIES” until they are two years of age.  We call them “infants”. Then, they are considered to be toddlers and most of that age group is still not ready to use the potty until they are 3.  I’m just talking about children with NO disabilities.  When you take a physical disability into account, those statistics change dramatically. (I don’t have actual statistics…I’ll just call that a figure of speech and move on 🙂  ). But really, all of the moms I speak to that started TPTP at 18 months regret it. 

Note: I am not judging or discouraging the Elimination Communication style of toileting.  Please see below for more information and breaking the myths behind it.

Elimination Communication Approach used by some parents…see link below to dispell myths

Even when I would begin to dispair I thought of all of those parents out there whose kids will never be able to use the toilet.  Imagine how that must feel to them. Their child is being denied the basics of a normal life, toilet use, writing, walking and talking.  Some have disabilities so severe they will be in the mind of an infant their whole life.  Or some, the mind of a 6 year old and those children understand that they are different. The reality of not being able to use the toilet affects them greatly. As their bodies grow and their mind stays the same, they know they might never get married or have kids.  So when I start to feel really bad.  I remember that there is always someone struggling more than I and I need to respect their pain by getting over mine. Rather than belittle someone’s experience, when asked, I would simply reply that we were having great difficulty and prayers were welcome. But it hurt to hear parents complain about decisions they had the power to change.  It hurt a lot. My purpose for sharing this particular piece of information, is not to accuse, stir up strife or judge. Its to be a voice for the hurting and lonely out there who have less suppoort and help than I.  So, please understand that I write this admonition with the greatest of reverence and least of condensention.  I only want to give a voice to those who are hurting and be their advocate.

On To The Next

So! I want to talk more about the book The Potty Journey that I recommended, to give you all a clearer  understanding of what the book is trying to convey and to talk about how we utilized it and how we didn’t. 🙂

Available on Amazon.com Also, check you local library.

Judith, in regards to her book, The Potty Journey, says “It is NOT a book of ‘toileting tricks. Step-by-step, it leads you, the tour director, all the way through the toilet training journey to its ultimate destination: successfully toilet training your child with special needs.”  This book is less about a rigorous schedule and more about routine.  It is not for children with a severe medical physical disability because those children have very special limitations.  It’s for those children with special needs, Autism spectrum disorders, including Sensory Processing Disorder.  It is designed for a child with  the physical age of 4 years, the mental age of 18-24 months, stays dry for 1-2 hours, has formed BM’s (meaning they don’t have a medical problem that causes loose stools), they are emotionally ready and additional stress is absent (there’s no major familial change like the birth of a new sibling), and there is an absense of Physical Contraindication.  Physical Contraindication “basically means the medical professionals agree that tthere is no medical reason not to begin toilet training”.  I am very interested in information on Potty Training children with medical physical disabilities and extremely sensitive to those difficulities. I encourage any of you to send me comments with that information to broaden my understanding. The main voice of the book is for children with Autism, which most agree that a schedule and routine is essential for.  Kids with SPD need routine too and like those with Autism, are often scared by TPTP.  She addresses this and creates a very slow systematic approach.

One thing I struggle with is caving into the meltdowns and tantrums of my Sensory kid (weird label).  All of the professionals, specialists and SPD Potty successful moms that I know agree that gentle pressure can provide amazing results.  The key is not to overwhelm, but to get them used to change and discomfort.  So they can learn to regulate themselves in order to function among their peers.  Therefore, pushing them to a breaking point with some huge shove, is not as effective as our mainstream society would tell us.  Tough Love, they call it.  Cowboy Up!  No one just throws their baby into a pool and says, “Deal with it! Sink or swim, kid.” That approach is not effective in a child with Sensory Issues.  However, a gentle but firm approach, in a safe and secure environment, displays amazingly effective results.  I have seen this produce INCREDIBLE results in our son.  However, he had to be ready physically and emotionally.  Determining when that is, is the most difficult part of the journey (at least, it was for us).

NOTE: These blogs are not written by a professional.  They are written by me.  A real mom just like you! Well, you’re probably normal. 😉  I want to be clear when I say, we did not follow this book step by step because it wasn’t appropriate for our son to do so.  We took the parts that were applicable to him and went with that.  So, without further ado, here it is!

How we overcame The Potty Training Push and finding victory! Yay!

As I mentioned in my previous post, Lets Talk About Poop Logs (I admit, I love writing that), JEM really struggled with using the potty.  We first started him on the potty 5-6 months after his little brother was born (he was 3.5yo).  We bought a little potty and had him sit on it for a couple minutes at a time , 3 times a day.  We did this for a couple of weeks and realized that he was just not physically ready.  Other than his own motivation and excitedness about the potty, he showed no sign of physical readiness that was mentioned to me by our friends and pediatrician.  He wasn’t staying dry through the night.  We noticed other things that no one mentioned though.  We noticed he didn’t truly understand what we were saying and he could not communicate to us at all about the potty.  He wasn’t staying dry, but biologically it appeared he just couldn’t do it.  So we stopped. We didn’t talk about it until he was nearly 4.

After our vacation in late October of 2011, we decided to try again at the recommendation of our friends and pediatrician.  So we began The Potty Training Push.  Sigh. Not only did it take a confident sweet little boy and turn him into a fearful little maniac, but it had physical set backs as well.  He began withholding.  No matter how hard we tried to find a motivator and encourage him with prizes and candies, movies, books, trips, EVEN A PUPPY, it only made things worse.  By that Christmas (only 3 weeks after the start of TPTP) he’s was so bound up and in physical pain that we were in absolute dispair.  Our poor little guy.  I would just be in tears at the end of the day and I entered such a deep depression I thought the world, especially my kids, would just be better off without me.  For those of you who haven’t read my previous post, Lets Talk About Poop Logs, please stop here, read the post and come back so you can see the full scope of pain this little guy was in.

Now we were just trying to get him to poop at all!!! We didn’t even care if it was in his diaper.  We tried to tell him it was okay to poop in his diaper if he wasnt ready for the potty, but the damage was done.  He felt like a failure if he didn’t go in the potty and he didn’t want to poop in his diaper because he desperately wanted to be a big boy.  So he held it.  We went through 3 major incidents of the sore butt, but really, the wounds never fully healed.  We talked to our Pediatrician over the phone (who is a GREAT doctor btw), our friends who are doctors and pediatricians, had those three even look at our son and they all said that even though it was the worst they had seen that it would heal and everything would be fine.  Those were the longest 3 months of my life.  I just knew something wasnt right.

By his 4th birthday I had started noticing other delays in his gross and fine motor skills.  So at his appointment, I talked again to the doctor about the struggles, wounds and the other issues. He advised stopping potty training and potty talk altogether. He also gave him Miralax to help.  He referred us to an OT (Occupational Therapist) to evaluate JEM for the other delays and we finally got to the root of the problem.  I totally expected them to say I was overreacting and there was nothing wrong with him.  To my surprise the told me he had Sensory Processing Disorder with subtypes Postural Ocular Disorder and Self Regulation Disorder.  And problems in potty training are one of the most prevelant symptoms for that particular subtype.  WHAT?!  SO I’M NOT CRAZY?! Now, let me just say, I don’t pretend to know more about child rearing than anyone that has paved the way ahead of me, but no one knows their kid like their parent/ main caregiver.  I was relieved that I trusted that. They told us to stop potty training altogether and wait for the therapy to help him.  We were told that it could take up until he was nine, but we believed that our little persistant guy would be ready again.

So…we waited.  We spent the next 5-6 months just working on the withholding issue.  If he wanted to sit on the potty, we let him but we didn’t push it.  As we approached this summer (2012) we felt like he was ready to talk about it and that’s when I found the book, The Potty Journey.  I found that it was more important for me to be ready this time around.  Over the last 6 months I’ve struggled with anger and frustration.  I was up to my elbows in poop all day long for a year now and I was absolutely exhausted.  I was ashamed of myself.  I sought forgiveness.  I got some courage on me, put on my sh** boots and prepared to get dirty.  Things began to go well, with gentle pressure, strong reinforcers and lots of encouragement and cuddles. We noticed JEM asking dad for help. So, he decided to take a week off of work so that could work with JEM on it and I could have a break.  There, at last, VICTORY!

The Process:

1. We started with bowel training first, since that was the problem area.  I made note of when he was having his BM’s so that I could be watching him for his urges and help him to the potty.

2. I increased his Miralax (recommended by doctor) which enhanced his feelings so he could push during the urges.

3. I created VISUAL potty reminders and put them up in every room.  (See picture!) The book I used has a great recommendation for creating a communication chart for children with low language comprehension.  This helped him tremendously because I could just refer to the picture. Boy on potty = iPad Time.  Later, it was Boy on Potty + Poop In Potty = iPad Time.

4. I spoke in words he used instead of my words.  That took a couple of weeks listening to him talk about it.  He used words like “feelin’s”.  So I used the term “feelin’s”.  That way I could say, “When you have feelin’s, stop, go to the bathroom, push your poop into the potty.”  That helped a great deal.

5. I put him on the potty for very short periods of time and rewarded him for potty time spent. Poop or no poop.

6. We talked calmly about the potty and tried to find a really powerful reward for the end of the journey.  At first he wanted a puppy, but after seeing a karate class, he decided that Karate was the thing he really wanted to do. Note: This took us a year to find his motivator.  So if you haven’t found one yet, have hope.  There is one, but your child might not be able to communicate to you, in words, what that is.  When they are capable, they will let you know.  But keep trying!

7. I  started having him sit on the potty for longer periods of time so that he didn’t do the whole… Drop a half nugget in and your done.  For large BMs we through a huge celebration in the bathroom. Jumping and singing and clapping (not good for all kids… some prefer no attention drawn to them).

8. NOW, it was time for Daddy to come and SAVE THE DAY!  We had set the groundwork for him and now it was in his hands.  I took a back seat and took on a demo and build project in our bathroom.  There’s nothing more cathartic than putting on your TARDIS shirt and swinging a sledge hammer at some ugly tile ;).  If you have the means, I highly recommend you do it. It is so choice (random Ferris Bueller reference). So last month, he spent a week with Daddy and surprised us.  My husband took the baby with him to run some errands one day that week, and while watching TV I heard a voice cry from the bathroom “I DID IT!”  I couldn’t believe it.  He had gone to the bathroom and put his poop in the potty on his own!!!! Amazing!  What a victory at 4.5yo!

UPDATE: he is still in diapers and still has lots of accidents.  This is not a “How To” post, but a “Heres How We Did It” post. And we’re STILL doing it.

That being said, the victory lies in him being able to go to the bathroom by himself and actually push out a POOP LOG!  That’s a huge deal for him.  I am not concerned with consistency right now.  I’m just celebrating with him in his new found autonomy.  He’s still on the Miralax periodically and he has had one sore bottom episode since then, but it was nowhere as bad as before.

To Sum Up:

1. Potty Training a Sensory Kid is HARD! …LOL…duh 😉

2. You are NOT alone.

3. There’s no one book or person who can tell you what to do.  They can only tell you what has worked for them.  It is then our job as parents to look into our kid, see their need and use the information we read or hear just like any other tool.  Not all jobs call for a flathead screwdriver.  Some require a paintbrush. But the flathead screwdriver might come in handy when opening the paint can!

4. We need to fall out of agreement with The Potty Training Push.  We need to wait for the child to tell us when they are ready.  Now, some kids are ready but because they fear change they will resist it.  The key is to know the difference between the two. If you are a person who believes that TPTP works, then use it.  🙂  But as a society, a one size fits all approach to potty training is just ineffective.  It’s rare that it works for a Sensory Kid, so we parents need to renounce our guilt and be sure in ourselves.

5. Reach out to people who will be supportive and offer encouragement, even if it means getting online and talking to a bunch of strangers like me who only now took a shower after 2.5 days had gone by.  My poor family and they sensitive olfactory organs!

6. Do whatever is best for your kid. They deserve it!

7. Contact me if you ever need anything by leaving a comment.  I’m happy to encourage you the best I can.  I honestly love people and pray for you parents out there that are hurting.  I will do whatever I can to help you.

Thank you so much for reading these posts and spreading the word to other parents out there who need help.  Like I said, I’m not a professional.  I don’t have all the answers.  I don’t even consider this post to be any kind of answer!  Mainly I just want you all to know that there is hope.  Even when it seems like there isnt.  There is also love and empathy.  Sometimes when we cant find an answer or don’t have one to give, it really helps to just hear someone say, “I’m sorry you’re going through this right now. I’m here for you.”  So if none of what I wrote above helps you, just know that I’m saying those very words to you now and you are cared for deeply.

This was incredibly taxing and difficult to write.  So please be kind in your comments. I really would like this to be place for postitive talk.

The Potty Journey: Guide to Toilet Training Children with Special Needs, Including Autism and Related Disorders, written by Judith A. Coucouvanis, published by APC (Autism Asperger Publishing Company), copyright 2008 

*Elimination Communication is not early potty “training”, but a method of noticing signs of eliminating and placing the child on the potty to do so.  I don’t want to bring judgement against that movement.  I’m only saying that there is a more inappropriate movement (that they would agree with me) that is damaging to some children (not all children). Like me, they are just providing an alternative to The Potty Training Push. I found A Hippie With A Minivan’s blog about this very interesting.  Though I don’t feel like this method is right for my family, I don’t want my post to bring criticism against alternative toileting methods. We’re all looking toward the same goal…a child that has a confident and positive perspective of using the potty!

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