Blogging about life in Minnesota, raising our six kids with Down syndrome while battling Breast Cancer.

Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the floor in the morning the devil says, "Oh shit! She's up!"

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

The Potty Thing

*disclaimer* This post falls under the category of "TMI".

When we first met Abel he was in diapers 24/7. Not just diapers, but one teen-sized disposable diaper layered over another teen-sized disposable diaper. I don't know how often those diapers are changed, but I do know they hold A LOT. Keep in mind that the kids are chronically dehydrated so they're not going through as many diapers as they normally would. When we started our visits we always brought with us a full water bottle, and it was always the first thing Abel asked for, even before the food. Needless to say, he was soaking through those diapers during our visits and we would bring him back to his caregivers for a change. I don't think our water bottle was very popular. ;-)

In Abel's group the kids ranged in age from 10-13. Every one of them in diapers, including the mostly-typical teenage girl. We were told Abel knew what to do on the toilet, both urinating and bowel movements, but that he was very afraid of the toilet so used one of the small plastic potties instead. I asked one of the caregivers why he's still in diapers at 10 years old if he was able to use the potty. The answer was lack of opportunity. They never actually used the plastic potty. In other words, the caregivers didn't have time. If only I had counted how many times we went to visit and there were no caregivers around. They'd see us come off the elevator and all come out of the break room, making themselves look busy. At one point I said to Dean when most of the kids were at school, with a hint of sarcasm, "Well, there is only one caregiver with these four kids."

Under normal circumstances (who am I kidding? That doesn't really exist with international adoption!) I would have waited until we got home to even attempt potty training Abel. But, since we were told he knew what to do, I figured I might as well give it a shot!

Remember we were told Abel was afraid of the toilet. Well, the second day at our apartment when I attempted to get him to follow me into the bathroom he put the brakes on at the door, shaking his head and stomping one foot, which is non-verbal speak for, "No way lady! You're not getting me on that thing!"

Abel's biggest motivator is food. We can get him to do pretty much anything as long as there is food involved. It's not like we are creating a problem using food motivators because he already HAS food issues, right? Anyway, I decided the only way to get him on the toilet was to PUT him on there. He knew exactly what was coming. As I tried to get his pants down he turned into a 12-legged cat and started clawing everywhere. Finally I plopped him on the toilet and popped a piece of chocolate in his mouth.

Silence while he savored his chocolate.

And then he peed. "YAY POTTY!!!! WHOO HOO!!!!" we clapped and sang.

An hour later I pointed to the bathroom, signed "potty" and pointed to the bathroom door. Abel shook his head and stomped his foot. From behind my back I pulled out the chocolate bar. He reluctantly came to the bathroom door and I gave him a piece. Then we got his pants down and he got another tiny piece. He sat himself on the toilet and he got three pieces.

And then he peed. And we had another party. And half a candy bar.

And hour later I signed "Potty" again, and went into the bathroom with the candy bar visible. Abel followed me right in, pulled down his pants, sat on the toilet then pointed at his mouth to show me where the chocolate should go. While he was savoring his bite of chocolate I turned on the water to wash my hands...and he pooped.

Five more bites of chocolate for him!!!

I say those caregivers just don't know how to use chocolate! LOL

So that's all great, that he was going potty on the toilet and everything, but he had no idea that he shouldn't go in his diaper, and I knew we wouldn't be able to work on that until we got home. For the time being we were going through a few less diapers each day.

Once home I was still putting him on the toilet regularly but he was constantly soaking through his diaper and jeans. I was trying to decide when was the best time to start Potty Training Boot Camp when one day Asher came into the bathroom, stood at the toilet and peed. Abel was fascinated by that! He quickly whipped down his pants and joined Asher at the toilet, the two of them side-by-side. TOO CUTE! That's it, it was time to start!

Thursday I went out and bought 20 pairs of underwear. (He and Asher wear the same size so it's not really overkill. ) Friday was THE DAY. I talked/signed to him about "dry", and "clean", etc. Five minutes later we were putting on a new pair of underwear. 20 minutes after that we did it again. That first day we went through 13 pair of underwear. Saturday we did it again, and only went through 8 pair. Sunday only three. Monday I got brave and put pants on him too. He did excellent all morning without a single accident. In the afternoon we had to go to Angela's softball game so I put a pull-up on him. Half way through the game he signed "potty"!!! We made a mad dash and he kept that pull-up dry, the rest of the day even when we went to track practice! He wore the same pair of pants and underwear all day long. Man this kid is smart!

Today he was dry as well. That was until I left him home with Dean and the two of them dozed off on the couch. Oops!

If we get through the next three days without accidents, I will say we are officially potty trained!

*update June 24th* That was the end of potty training bootcamp! From that day on it is rare Abel has an accident. We have discovered he pees when he's afraid though. Things like doctor exams, sitting on a new swing he's never tried before, all can guarantee wet pants. Other than that, he's been doing AWESOME!!!! Asher, on the other hand, is another blog post!


DandG said...

Yay! Did you continue to use food motivators while practicing at home? I've used "Toilet Training in Less Than a Day" by Azrin/Foxx (which was originally designed with brain-injured children in mind) with all of my kids. Pretty similar except also using salty and sweet snacks as rewards in order to encourage more drinking and more potty opportunities. Also, using a potty-training doll to model expectations.

I Just Love You said...

can you come potty train Rachel for me? :D

Jackie said...

Yeah! Doing the Potty Dance :)

Imogen said...

Wow, fantastic!

I used chocolate as a reward too with my daughter. I don't think bribery is a bad thing at all. It isn't like you see thousands of adults running to the candy vending machines every time they've visited a restroom. LOL

So proud of your boy!

Leah S. said...

LOL No, nobody is walking around with vending machines. But in general I don't like to use food rewards. Kids with DS often tend to put on extra weight very easily and my four don't need to expect a food reward for doing something. D&G after about day 4 with him in Serbia I didn't need to use food rewards anymore. He would happily go into the bathroom and take care of business. Once we started at home he was happy to have that underwear like Asher had, and, we discovered he does NOT like wet clothes. ;-)

Tabor Linden Schmidt said...

Yup, wet undies are not a happy thing here either. Hard part here was related to learning the sensation of a full bladder. One still has trouble there, but she's the fussiest about being clean! She just goes on a schedule now, and she's great at fully emptying her bladder, so it works for us!

Glad to know Abel has got this figured out!

Leah S. said...

Tabor, Angela was schedule trained for the LONGEST time. I would say until she was around age 9. She has always had problems with UTIs because she doesn't empty her bladder all the way, or waits too long to go. After awhile she no longer was able to feel when her bladder was full. We did a bladder training program when she was around 11 or 12. We used a toileting alarm watch, and set it to vibrate every 2 hours during the day. After about 6 months we stopped using it and she was once again.

Tabor Linden Schmidt said...

Our schedule girl has CP and just can't quite get all parts worked out all the time. But, she's fiercely independent. She just goes to the bathroom when she wakes up, right before meals, 30 minutes after meals, and every two hours between. She's got an alert band, so she remembers every two hours.

It's not perfect, but it works for her. She's happy, no UTI, don't need catheters, so it works for us also.

Glad to read Angela has gotten better! We'll keep going forward here and maybe my little one will improve as she gets older. She's 8 right now, so we're just waiting until she's a bit older to see if anything improves. But, oh well, we signed onto this ride, problems and all.

Daniel in Brookline said...

Not liking wet clothes sounds like a powerful motivator indeed!

My lovely wife (seen here as "D&G") neglected to mention that, for our youngest, he wanted nothing to do with dolls. He was happy with a toilet-training tow truck, though. (Cue Mater from Cars 2: "I never leak! I never leak!")

That was almost a year ago. Now he announces when he has to go... and waits for us to say "Go already!" before doing everything himself. So cute.

Twilson9608 said...

I say if it works use it and if it becomes a crutch then you'll have to work through that later but potty training is important, especially at an older age. He sounds like he has got this though! So exciting!!

Becca said...

Woohoo! Wow, that was fast!!