(Warning: The following entry my be a little bit graphic for some, but it is a fact of life)
The only parents who tend to share their experiences about potty training are the ones who are struggling and therefore, to whom I open up. I find this is a common reaction no matter what the topic. That is a gift of Finbar's autism. It forces me to open up to others and share for example, the mysteries surrounding my son's potty usage, which provides comfort to myself and often other parents. Still pooping and peeing is a particularly sensitive area and it seems the majority of parents just muck along, sometimes feeling clueless and not in control, but embarrassed to admit it.
With Finbar, I had three strikes against me already when it came to potty training: 1) he is my first child so I have no experience 2) he is a boy 3) he has autism (read anxiety, control issues and sensory issues to be specific).
So to make a long story short, we got through pee pee training during the day by way of the autism behaviorists and school personnel pushing it (THANK YOU). Phew. Pooping on the potty was a much longer drama, but I, finally at my wit's end last year, forbid anything BUT pooping in the potty on the day Finbar turned 5. After holding it in for a week after his 5th birthday, Grandma was able to convince Finbar (did I mention that Finbar will do ANYTHING, even temporarily feign complete and utter normalcy for his Grandma?) to go and we were off to the races with pooping in the potty.
Nevertheless, here we are nearly a year into pooping on the potty and until last week Finbar was 1) not going poop without me or his father in the bathroom with him 2) not wiping himself (yuck).
This was just a battle I was not willing to fight right now.
The irony is that my 3 yr old is adamant about going poop "in pWivate" AND much to my dismay secretly goes poop and tries to wipe himself, only to call me in to fix his mess after he has "twied and twied" to wipe himself. Put it to you this way, I have gone through umpteen mops and boxes of Clorox wipes due to this boy.
Anyhoo, I simply chose not to push Finbar to learn to wipe himself. I encouraged it when I could, but that was as far as it went. So imagine my surprise when here, sitting at my PC last week, Finbar arrives at my desk, pants around his ankles, to calmly and sweetly announce that he went poop and tried to wipe, but needs me to check if any poop is still on his butt - as if he had been doing this for ages. At which point he turns around to show me. Well suffice to say that he needed a little more practice :0.
Whhhaaaa? I think. Where did this come from? For the previous 2 poops, he had in fact quietly gone on his own without asking us to go in the bathroom with him, but he did call us to wipe him. THAT was already surprising and I did not hold out hope that it would last. I didn't even really praise him for this because I was afraid that calling attention to it would cause him to regress. But WIPING himself was a whole new world. A BIG step forward. A world of Finbar trying to do something for himself on his own without whining for help or saying "I CAAAAAN'T. A check mark on the Independent Life Skills list.
This kind of self motivation comes so natural and is so innate to most kids, such as my 3 yr old. It's "look at me mom!" "Look what I can do by myself!". But for the child with autism, motivation is always lacking, always fleeting. As I have said before, people with autism have very little resilience.
So I told Finney there was a little more to get off. Cleaned him up. A couple of days later, he went and wiped and didn't even ask for a check over. I never did get the chance before he got in the tub to check how well he did :0. Then today I think, wow, when was the last time he went poop? 3 or 4 days ago? The answer is, I really don't know. I ask him and he doesn't know (doesn't remember - see post on Dory) but thinks that it has been a long time. Now what????
As I type, I just went to try and wake him (it is 10:30pm) as per his request every night when going to bed - "mom, don't forget to wake me to pee later." I prod and call to him, but he doesn't wake. What's a mother to do? I have in the past tried many times to pull him out of bed, take down his pants and stand him (hold him up) in front of a potty to pee. He has sometimes remained completely asleep while I do this. Rarely did he actually pee. His brain simply will not wake him up to go. We tried forcing it by taking away the diapers and thought well maybe if he wets himself a few nights he will get the point. That was kind of like rubbing a puppy's nose in its poop on the floor. Poor fuzzball just doesn't get it. The Huggies Goodnites website states that 5.7 million children in the USA wet their pants at night. Phew we are not alone.
So we continue to try and wake him most nights. Most nights he remains unwakeable (wish I could say the same for myself when my hubby is snoring LOL). And now I have researched bedwetting alarms (can add that subject to my informal PhD studies in autism). Who knew that there is a slew of alarms out there - wireless, plug in, wearable, bell and pad...they come in a variety of colors and ring tones. When I read up on these alarms, the overriding comment from parents was that they work, but you basically have to sleep in the child's room for a few months so that you can help them get up, turn off the alarm, go pee and put on dry pants if necessary - and this sometimes several times a night and for weeks on end. Uhh, no thanks. I decided to heed Finbar's pediatrician's advice "Don't get an alarm, all that will do is wake YOU up several times a night." It was her opinion, and mine too, that the sensory connection between brain and body that is needed to wake up at night to pee is not yet developed in Finney. So for now and perhaps the foreseeable future, it's Huggies Goodnites and a lot of $$ down the drain.