Sunday, September 11, 2016

Potty Party Progress (Part 3)

Potty Training Background

Before talking about our potty training progress, I have to say how nervous I was last week about it because it took me to the moments when Tommy was learning to go potty when he was about 30 months by the end of 2010 an the beginning of 2011.

This time period was very emotionally for me because I had a miscarriage in progress when I was expecting Francis right before Christmas in 20110, and then, just a month later I had to face Tommy being rough to the emergency room. Then right after, he began to display Autism characteristics and his development stopped, including potty training. A new issues, leaky gut, appeared that directly impacted continuing with potty training. Over the last 6 years, I have been fully dedicated to heal his gut, and finally, I got the right specialist who has helped enormously so Tommy now can have regular bowl movements. If you read my old post, Tommy had the reediness for potty training when he was a toddler, but he lost everything after the hospitalization in January 2011. His overall muscle system was affected, which it could be due to mitochondrial function affected by the medications and the virus at that time. It was a completely mess, but now, it is time to retake potty training! This makes me to face how much Tommy has lost because of AUTISM, but it has also made me stronger because I am fighting back against Autism.  

This is why I like about blogging— below are old post about our potty training experience when Tommy was a toddler: 
Toilet learning is fun!
Hip, hip-hurry!Toilet-learning is fun!
Potty training is going well

Day 1 (September 9, 2011)

It was a completely mess. There were two occasions where he was not happy about our potty party. So I got armed of patient. Nothing was working to make him to comply. But after many tries, he complied to sit on the toilet.  He had many, many accidents and one success.  But I feel still is a success because he had a lot of practise on important steps to potty training, such as: taking his understands by himself, cleaning his accidents as well as working on other skills while we wait for the timer to ring. 

Day 2 (September 10, 2011)

Not much progress on going potty. But he had a huge progress on washing his hands by himself. If I offered a spoon of ice-cream, he roughed to wash his hands all by himself. I also noticed more communication. For example: I showed his rewards and he purposely requested Grober and big bird, the were not on sticker shit I was showing him. But I had them on the sticker book and he saw them before. He also had and accident and he said: I went potty!  He also told me "potty", but we couldn't make it on time to the bathroom. He even told me: I want to watch a movie. I saw a lot of verbalization today with a purpose! He definitely had a lot more fun on Day 2. We made our potty party super fun. 

Day 3 (September 11, 2011)

I encountered a lot more behaviors. I think it has to be that Tommy struggled to fall asleep last night which is out of the norm and he may not felt good in the morning, but he bounced back to his normal. The hole morning he was not into our potty party. But, he told me "potty" again. He wanted to pee, so he got a big sticker as a reward and he was very happy with his bog sticker. We also sang "celebrate" from the Potty Time CD by Rachael Coleman. He sat on the toilet and 10 minutes passed, the timer went off so It was time leave the toilet, but he refused. Then, I let him to stay for 10 more minutes. But he kept holding it. Then, we had another struggle about washing his hands. Finally, he washed his hands, but he didn't get his spoon of ice cream as a reward because he had a bad behavior. After a great success yesterday in washing hands, today was a struggle. He didn't care for the ice cream anymore. After, we finished, we went upstairs to get my notebook, so I can revise what I am doing. Then, he when to my bathroom and shot the door and he went potty in the bathroom, but not on the toilet. Around 11:10 am he got hungry, but he didn't eat all his food. Then, I noticed that he wasn't feeling good. I checked and he had a fever. So he took a nap and our potty party was postpone because after nap, he had another fever. But I feel very happy with our first Potty Party Boot Camp. 

I know understand why Mrs. Hickey says that she enjoys to potty train kids. You can see their developmental growth in matter of days. When it is about kids with special needs, you can see how capable they are of leaning this important life skill and makes you even more proud of working on such a task because it is about humanity because it helps them with self-confidence and independance.

I enjoyed this time with Tommy because it was just the two of us in the house. So my full attention was dedicated to him and we connected in a very meaningful way. I wish I could do this more often, because it was not about potty training, we also had fun and worked on so many skills without forcing anything and we were doing these by just being a mom and a child, there was not a disability. You can see it on our  videos when we both enjoy singing "A todo pulmon" (Full-throated) like we say in Spanish. It has changed the perspective of what I had before Friday. I was nervous about this boot camp, but I will do this again.

Blowing strengths the abdominal muscles. 
So I thought this could help on getting those muscle ready while we wait.

Tommy has learned the songs of Potty Time Signing DVDs
 including the signs  for wake up, sleep, eat and drink. 
he doesn't sign them, but he understand them when I singed them
when I stopped so he could fill in with the word that
 follows in the lyric of the song. 

I also noticed that even when repetitive behaviors has decreased a lot, they are still on the way interfering with Tommy learning new skills. I noticed it in the video of washing hands while I was editing the video. He was stemming during the transition form one step to the other. He was a able to do it with minimal physical intervention from me, I just intervened by passing the towel to him because he got cut up on verbally stemming and flapping hands, which makes me think that he was proud of himself. However, decreasing receptive behaviors should be priority at home as well as school because it is interfering with the leaning process, but I will have to figure out what it is the most appropriate way to address it based on neurodevelopment.

Potty Party, Steps for success (Part 2)

In my search on how to work with Tommy on potty training, I found out about Ashley Hickey. She specializes in potty training kids with special needs, specially those with Autism. She uses a very intensive method. The child should go to the potty every 5 minutes and wait on the potty for 10 minutes. Gradually, the child gets more time out of the potty as he or she progresses, so usually the second day the timer is set up every 30 minutes and then 10 on the toilet. But this will take a lot more time with Tommy. Mrs. Hickey has an potty training informative video of her intensive method on There is also How to Potty Train Your Child videos featuring by Mrs. Hickey at It is a set of 48 videos with a lot information about her method. 

Potty Party, Steps for success

The boy doll is learning to use
the potty like Tommy
Special Place Set-up
Mrs. Hickey recommends a special place set-up as a waiting area for Potty Party. Having a Special place set-up near the bathroom reduces the ratio where the accidents would happen. But the third day was hard to keep Tommy in this area. Probably it was because he was starting to feel sick.

I enjoyed this area because I was able work on many subjects, such as: math, fine motor, soccer (video modeling), pretend play, etc. I think it didn't too much thoughts on what activities to bring this area, which it would save me time. 

A lot Underpants
I keep extra underpants under the sink and shirts shirts.
He gets extra practice on handling his clothes!
Mrs. Hickey recommends using underwear instead of pull-ups or diapers because it is what makes the child to understand the difference, which will definitely direct the child to the toilet with practice. Accidents are part of the potty learning process! Mrs. Hickey is right, Tommy looks at himself when he has accidents while he says: Oh, oh, oh! He even said one time: Oh, Oh, Potty! She also recommends for nap time or taking the child out to places that the child wear underpants all the time, just to put a diaper or pull-ups over for protection, but the child should never feel the diapers or pull-ups again.

Offering drinks
Drinking constantly increase the opportunities to practice. For a child with special needs, extra practice is crucial because they need a lot more repetition than a typical child. This part is tricky! Tommy is not wanting to drink much liquids at school. At home, I just hand his water bottle and he drinks fine. But there is something about Tommy's drinks, his drinks have to be very cold. So I always put a lot of ice cubes in his water bottle. He likes coconut water, apple juice and mineral water. Lately, I have been doing tea for breakfast and he is drinking them fine, but they are more ice-tea than actual tea. The teas he has tried are chamomile and lavender and Licorice root and he is drinking them fine. I will be experimenting with different tea flavors during our potty party.

Reward Box
I gave a reward box to the school staff,
so they can work on potty party at school, too.
This is a big part of the Potty Party by Ashley Hickey. She says this has been the hardest part while working with kids with spacial needs. The child should get a reward right after he or she sits on the potty. 

Tommy was involved in the processes of gathering his rewards. The successful rewards are the medals, the stickers and the ice-cream. I give him his reward right after the timer rings. Tommy enjoys choosing the stickers! He is putting the stickers on his shirt by himself, so it also a natural way of working on fine motor skills and including him to be part of the whole potty learning experience.  

Natural consequence
Tommy is doing laundry.
He is washing his dirty underpants 
Instead of punishment, Mrs. Hickey, works on natural consequence. It is basically that the child learns to be responsible by cleaning his or her own mess. Tommy doesn't like this part, and who likes to clean yucky things. I remove the yucky stuff first and he is in charge on wiping the area with disinfectant wipes (team work).

His special needs shouldn't be used as an excuse that he cannot learn about consequences. Baby him doesn't help him at all, it just make him to stay in his inner world even more, which it is supported by the work Communication Partner by Dr. James D. MacDonald who is an expert in communication issues in kids with special needs.

 This is also a way to include him in his environment, 
to be part of he whole potty learning process as well as
to work on fine motor skills.

This is very crucial for potty training success. Everybody should be doing the same, including baby sitters, caregivers and school. I already have a meeting with school and we will try to be as much consistent as possible. But I know it is going to be difficult during our normal routine. I also have to focus on Francis and I work full-time. But I am planning to get him to wear underpants all the time when he is at home, so he will be on underpants as soon as get comes back from school. 

I decided that I would be working on a Potty Party a month ago, so I set the day for September 10, 2016. But Tommy had to stay at home on Friday because he had a fever the day before, then I gave it a try to our potty party a day before.

I will give a updated about our progress in my next post. I feel very confident with Tommy's progress, considering that he is fighting a bug and he hasn't been potty trained for so many years makes harder to break the habit, but I feel great that I stated this. 

The issues we are having are very common during potty training, but I am not an expert in this matter. I already contacted Ashley Hickey to find a way she can work with me. I do believe her method works. She has trained hundred of children of all abilities versus me that it is trying to train one child. His little brother doesn't count because he was too easy and he understood the concept of potty training before I worked on it. I truly need extra help, but I am fully confident that Tommy is capable!

Potty Party, Gathering Supplies (Part 1)

Gathering supplies and getting the house ready for our potty party has been fun. I took Tommy to buy new underwear and a potty seat last week. He did really good, we went to two stores to get underwear, and then, we went to target to get the potty seat. We usually get the shopping carts at target, but now that Tommy is more comfortable to go shopping, I want to face out the shopping carts. So we walked in to Target, he immediately stopped and looked at the shopping carts. I thought: "it's not going to work." But I told him that we would walk instead, it would be quick. So he complied! What a relief! When we found the potty seat that I wanted, Tommy helped by carrying the potty seat to the cashier. I am working on him by part of our shopping experience, so he also have to carry the shopping bags. 

Gathering "Potty Party" supplies at a local Target Store
Mom could capture the moment in video!

Potty Training Set-up

Cleaning supplies
I fixed under the bathroom sink like my cleaning warehouse. 
Extra paper towels, extra disinfectant cleaning wipes, 
extra underwear, extra shirts and extra wipes.
Where Potty Party takes place
We spent 3 days in the bathroom.
What I liked about the intensive program
is that reduces the area for accidents.
Most accidents were 6 ft away from the bathroom.

Activity Basket
I keep this basket in the bathroom for Tommy's entertainment
 while we wait to say hello to pee or poo! It has music toys, 
the potty time songs lyrics, Spanish books, etc.

Progress chart
At school they mention a progress chart, so I have this
one from the pass. I noticed that Tommy likes every time that
 I mark that he has done good. So  I am getting a new progress chart.

The Potty Time with Rachel Coleman has helped a lot
in creating the foundation for the potty training vocabulary.
List of words: wet, dry, potty, timer, yucky, toilet, bathroom,
wash, wipe, faucet, soap, towel or paper towel,
underpants or underwear, poo-poo, pee-pee, pause,
reward, medal, sticker.
I use the phrase recommended by Mrs. Ashley Hickey,
who is a potty training specialist:  
"Wet pants are yucky. Let's change into dry underpants."

Looking for books about potty training to read to Tommy, I noticed all books are for toddlers. None of the books that I found where for an older child who has passed the age appropriate for potty training due to medical issues. The toddler books where not that interesting for Tommy, so I realized that the illustrations are not enticing him because he cannot relate with the younger characters. There are not many books with illustrations of kids that look older than toddlers and using the actual toilet. I kept searaching and I was able to find two books that really cut his attention because the main characters are boys and look older than a toddler, the stories have some sense of humor. He loves "Bloop, bloop goes the poop."

Getting all the information and supplies to potty train a child with special needs is not easy. It can be overwhelming. There are so many methods and ways to potty train a child, but every child is different. There is not guidance of potty training a child with special needs with challenges who has also passed the age appropriate for potty training and struggles to communicate due to his coexisting conditions. Searching for simple and short potty training method is how I found Ashley Hickey, who specializes in training children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and has had potty trained hundreds of children of all abilities, including: Down syndrome, visual impairments, Apraxia, Cerebral Palsy, Muscular Dystrophy, Prader-Willi Syndrome, among others. I believe that her intensive potty training method works for Tommy. I already contacted her, so we can have a consultation to effectively potty training my precious boy.