The Never Ending Hallway : Potty Training the 5 Year Old

Warning:  There may be graphic details in this post.  Read at your own risk.

It’s been a while since I’ve posted and there is good reason.  Our lives have been really crazy in the last few months.  Andy graduated preschool in June and since he’s been home for the summer, we have been busy with potty training, getting some OT (occupational therapy) and getting use to a personal assistant who helps out every week (Godsend!). 

It all started with a phone call to find out what our options were for after-school care for Andy in the fall.  I was optimistic that I would find a teaching job and wanted to make sure we got all the pieces of the puzzle of Kindergarten in place before the school year begins.  After a round a phone calls, it turns out that Andy qualifies for a personal assistant who comes to the house to work with him one-on-one for 14 hours each week!  I never knew this even existed (would have been nice last summer when I was 9 months pregnant!).  Anyway, we started services toward the end of June and it has been absolutely wonderful.  One of the workers, A., comes over every day and works with him on potty training, washing hands, dressing, playing appropriately, staying on task, etc.  Another worker, K., will be our back up and is also available for respite care twice per month for 4 hours each.  Can anyone say, Date Night????

The OT has been great too as Andy has another, very important, diagnosis to add to his list on his IEP.  Turns out he has something called Sensory Integration Dysfunction (or Sensory Processing Disorder depending on who you talk to).  After doing some research on this, it really makes a lot of sense.  The OT he’s been working with has given us some very useful suggestions and strategies to use with him at home and our level of stress in the house has begun to diminish ever so slightly. 

Of course, while we are thrilled that we have some strategies, it just verifies why we have had so many problems trying to potty train in the past.  Andy cannot feel what’s going on down there because he is hypo-sensitive.  That means for everything that a normal person feels, he needs to feel it times ten in order for his brain to even recognize it.  I finally now understand why he likes to make such loud noises out of anything.  Seriously, this is the boy that can take his sister’s cotton bibs and make a resounding boom by slapping it on a fabric covered chair!  What does this all have to do with potty training, you may ask?  Well, from my understanding of the hypo-sensitive child, when they are in diapers or pull-ups, they are very content to go poop or pee and sit in it all day because the material in the commercial diapers wicks away all the moisture so they don’t feel a thing.  So as a last ditch effort, we have finally thrown out all the pull-ups for the daytime and only use them at night, but make sure to put them over underwear so he still feels that moisture against his skin.  After a very long month and many, many messes, we have finally had some success.  Yesterday, he told us twice he had to go potty and both times, he ended up peeing in the potty!!!!!  We have yet to have a successful poop in the potty, but I know it will come, eventually.  For now, we will keep trudging back and forth every 20-30 minutes to the potty.  Down the long hallway to sit on the potty and read books, sing songs, and basically do whatever it takes to get his mind off of it so he can relax and go.

I guess some kids just take longer.  I have to focus on the positive aspect of this long road.  I get to spend a lot of time with my sweet boy.  That can’t be replaced.

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