Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Potty training dilemma

Jaymes has been in school a couple weeks now, so he's settling in pretty well to his routine and his new classroom. Unfortunately, seems like there is already some tension between myself and his new teacher. I had hoped we'd at least manage to go a month before I had to unleash my inner bitch... But it's getting close. I may be being irrational about this, maybe not. Hard to tell I guess, I'm pretty biased! Jason agrees with me, as do many of our friends... But of course that doesn't mean that I'm right, she's wrong, or vice versa.

The second week of school, I got a note in Jaymes backpack that (to me) had a very abrasive tone, essentially an order that I send Jaymes to school with Pulls Ups, because "he is more than ready to potty train." Now, the first issue here is that I don't particularly appreciate feeling like I'm being told what kind of diaper I can or cannot send my child in. It's actually fairly unusual to have one of Jaymes teachers use that sort of approach on me. Mrs. C never did that, even when we were discussing things we both felt strongly about, I always felt like I was being treated with the utmost respect, and that I was being talked to, not talked down to. That isn't the feeling I get now. I feel a bit like a child, being lectured. I really don't like that.

So yes, that was the less mature part of my irritation... On to the more logical piece of the problem. For one thing, I do not like Pulls Ups. Jaymes does not make any effort to make people aware that he's wet or dirty, and Pull ups do not absorb like diapers do. So Jaymes ends up with very painful, nasty rashes on his backside. Also, they leak. There's nothing like Jaymes coming home, getting off the bus with a leaky, overflowing diaper full of a combination of poo and urine. Generally that results in a bath, and a change of clothes.

The biggest issue has nothing to do with how mommy feels, or her dislike for Pull Ups. It has to do with the fact that I know my son. In what world is this child "more than ready" to potty train? I hate to be a witch here, but his teachers for the last 3 years have told me this at the start of each school year. Did they have any success? Of course not. Yes, there were a couple incidents where the timing was just right and Jaymes managed to direct his bodily fluids into whatever potty or potty chair they held him on... But those were few and far between.

We've tried for years to get him trained. Therapists have tried. Family members have tried. No one has managed it. Guess why? Because he is not ready. How do I know this? I know this child. I've been living with him for almost seven years.

But we mothers are always clueless, I suppose. Let's see what the World Wide Web has to say on the subject:

FamilyDoctor.org tells us that parents should start potty training when their child is ready- not before. The signs that the child is ready are below.

  • Your child signals that his or her diaper is wet or soiled.
  • Your child seems interested in the potty chair or toilet.
  • Your child says that he or she would like to go to the potty.
  • Your child understands and follows basic instructions.
  • Your child feels uncomfortable if his or her diaper is wet or soiled.
  • Your child stays dry for periods of 2 hours or longer during the day.
  • Your child wakes up from naps with a dry diaper.
  • Your child can pull his or her pants down and then up again.
Let's see where Jaymes stands.

  • Jaymes does not signal that he needs a new diaper. If asked, he either says "NO" or runs away. He gets very upset if asked.
  • Jaymes hates the potty. Occasionally he will sit on it on his own, but only to complete the procedure he was taught at school- pants down, sit on potty, flush potty, pants up, wash hands. Any effort to keep him on the potty results in extreme distress most of the time.
  • Jaymes does understand and follow many basic directions.
  • Jaymes has no problem sitting in a wet or dirty diaper. He will actively try to keep from having it changed, and if not checked frequently, will sit in it until his bottom is raw. Diligence is very important for me.
  • Sometimes he stays dry for up to two hours. Sometimes not. It's very random, and definitely based more on how much he has had to drink during the day.
  • Jaymes wakes up from naps in a very wet, and often dirty diaper.
  • Jaymes can get his pants up and down without a problem.
Sooo.. Three out of eight. And those are assuming the child is typically developing. Mine is not. As the school is so fond of telling me, he has a very low IQ (not sure I agree with that one, mind you), and there is a whole long list of "can't do" items that are used against Jaymes every time I bring up letting him spend additional time outside of the EC classroom.

But maybe this list is just far out, and unreasonably holding back children who are clearly ready to potty train... Maybe another source will offer up a more realistic set of criteria.

Wow, this came from The American Academy of Pediatrics. Those folks know what they're talking about. Let's take a look at what they say about how to tell when you're child is ready to start potty training...

  • Your child stays dry at least 2 hours at a time during the day or is dry after naps.

  • Bowel movements become regular and predictable.

  • You can tell when your child is about to urinate or have a bowel movement.

  • Your child can follow simple instructions.

  • Your child can walk to and from the bathroom and help undress.

  • Your child seems uncomfortable with soiled diapers and wants to be changed.

  • Your child asks to use the toilet or potty chair.

  • Your child asks to wear "big-kid" underwear.

I don't even need to give specific answers to these. It's obvious. The biggest thing that the schools, therapists, and assorted people who think they know better than mom, is this....


Was that clear enough, to describe my feeling on this? I hope so. I know that Jaymes is six years old, and that he will be seven in December. I know that all "normal" nearly seven year olds are toilet trained. But my son is not typical, nor is he normal. It is unfair to push a milestone on a child who is not ready. Chronologically, yes, he should be ready. But, as all that testing tells us, developmentally, he is between two and four. His self help skills are among the most delayed skills.

If Jaymes were ready to train, would he get very upset when I check his diaper? would he run away, or scream and fight when I try to change a smelly diaper? Would he sit in it, as the nurses at the hospital's psych unit let him, until he ended up with a diaper rash so severe that he has scarring on his rear end?

No. If he were ready, he would tell me he needed a diaper change, or at the very least allow me to check. He would initiate potty time himself. And given the diligence of the staff at school, if he were ready, they'd have him trained by now.

So my dilemma is this... I explained to the teacher my feelings about Pull Ups. She did not seem too thrilled with my refusal to allow them to be used, but she suggested I send him in normal underwear instead. At the time I said I'd talk to Jason about it, and I have. I've talked to a lot of other parents about it, those with autistic kids and those with typically developing kids.

An issue I have with the underwear idea is the mess factor. And of course the humiliation factor. No, I don't know that Jaymes would feel any embarrassment about wetting himself (or worse.) But the fact that he might really eats at me as I think about this. I really don't feel like Jaymes is going to benefit from continually soiling underwear. I've tried that method, and while it worked fine for Sierra, it did not work for Jaymes. It also irritated his ridiculously sensitive skin, along with upsetting him and requiring more frequent bathing (which I'm fine with, but Jaymes doesn't like one bit.)

I try really hard not to be unreasonable. I try to go along with what the school folks want to try, and I am nearly always open to new ideas. But this I am not on board with, and I'm not comfortable about. And it is not that I "refuse to allow him to be potty trained," or that I want him in diapers. I would love to have him potty trained. I love having Sierra potty trained. It's wonderful. I'm not trying desperately to keep Jaymes in diapers. I hate them. I hate the smells, and the squirming and the assorted nastiness that come along with a six year old with stomach troubles who is still in diapers.

But in the end, I'm Jaymes' mom. Until someone proves me wrong, I'm going to assume that I know my kid well enough to know whether he is ready to do something or not. In my mind, it's obvious, and I feel like backing down and letting someone who has known my son all of two weeks bully me into pushing Jaymes when he is not ready to be pushed... Well, that's not the right thing to do, and it is not in the best interests of the child.

I am not sure how to handle this. Maybe I am being unreasonable. I don't think I am, but hey, you never know. Jason agrees with me. It's unusual for us to both be in complete agreement about this.

1 comment:

Melanie said...

My son turned 7 two weeks ago and is only just now starting to show the signs of being ready to poo-train - we got the first half of the battle a little over a year ago. Maybe you can "negotiate" for trying pullups second semester, due to his recently-disovered lactose issues. His poor little stomach needs time to heal after being unhappy for so long. I let my son's body establish a regular rhythm once we changed his diet (had to go diary, gluten and yeast free, as all three made horrible ickies). Once we had a set body rhythm, we knew when to set him on the potty for a "good try" at home. No pressure on him to produce but lots of cheers for cooperation. Been doing that about a year, just starting to see success now. If Jaymes can't feel the oncoming BM (and it's a very hard feeling to describe esp. to a communication-delayed kid), then how in the world does the teacher expect to train him while working on the social, behavioral and academic stuff too in a class of several kids? Stick to your guns! You've got an IEP in hand - is toileting on it? Good luck!