Hands up whose looking forward to toilet training their child with sensory processing disorder or autism.
There are several parents who have come to me really doubtful that their child will be able to kick the nappy habit before they start school. It all just feels too stressful.
Image if your child could start school without wearing nappies. The bell goes for morning tea and they rush off to use the toilet like the other kids in their class.
For some families, this feels like a distant dream. But I am happy to say that there is hope.
Children with autism and sensory processing disorder have a specific set of needs when it comes to setting them up for success with abandoning nappies. Today I am talking with NZ psychologist Jenna Cunneen where we discuss some of the specific things to be aware of when toilet training kids with specific needs.
Here's some ideas to help
+ Keep a record for a week of when your child is doing a poo. Do they show any signals that they need to go before they do? Is there any patterns that you can see in terms of regular times?
+ Put a date on the calendar, choose a time when you have support and prepare for the time when your child wears underwear full time. Make sure you have some frozen meals, or a stocked pantry so you don't have to leave home. Get someone to help look after the siblings and support you.
+ Check that your child is eating lots of fibre and drinking about 4 cups of water per day. This will help keep them "regular" when toilet training
+ Grab a step stool that is the right height, a toilet seat insert and some toilet training undies and get your child to practice using them for short periods of time.
+ Take it slow. Break it down into small steps and teach the skills of wearing underwear, pulling up and pushing down pants, washing hands and wiping, before going nappy free during the day.
+ Model the process so your child can see what they need to do. Make visiting the toilet a normal part of everyday life. Decorate the toilet room with your child's favourite pictures or characters.
+ Keep consistency when you go out or your child is being cared for by another adult. Encourage them to wear absorbent undies with a bamboo liner (in case of poo accidents). Find Wee Pants: Absorbent Underwear HERE
+ Find out if you can access funding to get support so you can feel relaxed and get a plan that is going to help you feel confident.
Here's one Mum's story:
With my second [child], I was a bit more confident and decided to do things a bit differently. One change was in trying reusable nappies. They were so cute with little pictures on them and super easy to use, the only hitch was that baby clothes often didn't stretch over them as they're more bulky than disposables.
At around 18m my son started pulling his nappy off on occasion which of course irked me, but my mother pointed out that he was doing it when he needed to toilet and from then I was actually quite impressed with him. I did try him on a potty but he sat for about 30 seconds then said, "It's not working, it needs a battery" - and hopped off.
After this I just took him to the toilet and while it wasn't an overnight shift to no nappies, it was very quick. I did continue to put him in a nappy at night for about 6 weeks but inevitably he was dry so I stopped bothering. I believe that the ease of this process was largely because he learnt to associate the feeling of needing to wee or poo with a change in feel in his nappy as cloth nappies don't absorb in the way that disposables do. However, I also believe it was in part because of his nature; he is finely attuned, in fact he has something called sensory processing disorder and is super sensitive to touch, smell, noise etc and cannot abide even slight discomfort such as a clothing label tickling his neck or a drop of water on his t-shirt. In some ways SPD is a challenge but in others it is a gift, not least for toilet training!" Anna
Thanks for your help Jenna, here's where to find her:
Jenna Cunneen M.A. Applied Psychology (ABA), B.A. Psychology