Monday, January 24, 2011

Potty Training

Sitting on his potty chair for the 10th time today, Matthew was successful with a pee potty. Unfortunately, he wasn't sitting quite right so pee shot out over the front guard of the potty chair and soaked my pants since I was sitting in front of him. But I praised him for going. I applauded his effort. That was more important than my wet pants.

He understands that going in the potty is expected and loves the praise he gets for successfully using the potty. He even clapped for himself as he was peeing. Yes, it's a proud moment for us all.

Readiness signs
We started introducing Matthew to the potty in August last year. He was showing an interest in the toilet, imitating Bill or I in the bathroom. He was willing to sit on his potty chair at bathtime and bedtime.

He knows the sign for potty. He can also verbalize "potty." However, without recognizing the urge to go yet, he doesn't communicate that he wants to or needs to use the potty.

Generally, sensory awareness is low in individuals with Down syndrome. This seems to be true for Matthew as he doesn't seem to sense the urge. He is also indifferent to being wet or having a poopy diaper. So in this regard, perhaps he isn't completely ready but we wanted to start the process anyway because of his interest.

Potty Strategies & Ideas
During the Christmas break, we ramped up our potty training efforts, taking him to the potty (roughly) every hour. He now wears pull-ups during the day, even to school. So he uses the potty at school too even if it wasn't originally in our IEP (Individualized Education Plan). He wears a diaper at naptime and bedtime.

However, with the hourly schedule, we seemed to be missing the window 90% of the time. We were either 3 minutes too late or 3 minutes too early. So last week, we decided to take him to the potty every 30 minutes when he's home and offering water or juice as often as possible. Yes, it's a tedious process but we've learned to incorporate it into our day by keeping an eye on the clock or setting a "potty alarm." It certainly isn't easy when I have 8-month old Elizabeth to tend to as well. But the more practice he gets, the more chances for more successes. Each success is a little baby step to being potty trained.

An idea from another mom is to put Matthew in underwear under the pull-up so he'll feel that he's wet since pull-ups tend to wick moisture away from the skin. I'll try it for the sake of trying it but I don't have high hopes that it will work for someone who doesn't seem to mind playing in wet pants.

Peter PottyI also thought of purchasing the "Peter Potty" which is a standing toddler urinal made just for boys. My sister-in-law recommended it as it worked for slowly transitioning her son out of diapers. The Peter Potty purchase has not been made. is out of stock and we haven't decided if we wanted to try this. We'll continue to use the Baby Bjorn Potty Chair for now.

Another thing I tried was putting Matthew on the toilet. But he was not comfortable on it and seemed very unsteady even with me holding him since his feet couldn't reach the floor.

Standing to pee in the toilet isn't an option for him yet either since he is short. Standing on a stool and using toilet targets is another idea I've quietly entertained but haven't tried. He'll need more stability getting up on a stool and standing on it without holding on to anything and I'm afraid it might turn into a messy game, which would involve me mopping the bathroom floor multiple times a day.

A Learning Process
Matthew is learning the routine: use the potty, wash hands and dry hands. He is learning to pull his pants down and pants up, which requires finger and hand strength and coordination. He still needs help with this. He usually falls forward when pulling his pants up. He is learning that he needs to keep his balance when pulling his pants up.

It's the baby steps that matter to us. Some days we take a few steps forward. Some days we take a few steps back.

ListMaster iPhone appPotty Tracking
I've been tracking the number of successes and number of times he sits on the potty using my newest iPhone app "ListMaster." More searching led me to more iPhone apps specifically for potty training utilizing reward systems. However, Matthew doesn't yet understand cumulative reward systems so accumulating several stars to earn a treat or a toy will not work for us right now. So I'll stick to the chart I created on ListMaster for now. As you can see, our batting average for success is currently pretty low.

No Deadline
We're taking it a day at a time. Having him potty trained by the time he goes to Kindergarten would be ideal. Age 5 is the earliest that kids start Kindergarten here. Because his birthday is in October, which is past the beginning of the schoolyear (August), he will be going to Kindergarten a few months before he turns 6. So we have time. But if that does not happen, then we'll just have to rethink things.

Asking other moms in the DS community, it seems kids with Down syndrome potty trained at age 5 - 7 on average, with a few trained as early as 3 and a few as late as 8 to 11. Some did it in a week. Some took a few years.

Every child is different though. Maybe Matthew will be potty trained by his 4th birthday. Or maybe Matthew won't be completely potty trained until he's 5 or older. But right now, with his interest, cooperation and willingness (very important!), we feel it is certainly worth the effort to try. It's another little step toward independence.

Stopping and trying again later is also certainly an option.

Your Experiences, Ideas and Strategies
Please share potty training ideas and what worked for you by leaving a comment. I would love to hear them and many parents who read this blog would find it helpful too. Thanks!

Related posts:
Go Potty
Potty Training


Looking Up said...

I so appreciate your blog. It is always so informative. I've mentioned to others that potty training is something that I am not looking forward to. My son just turned two in December, & I don't believe that he is truly ready to start the process yet. He just started walking independently in September & is still very unsteady. Add to the fact that he is still on a diuretic for his heart failure which means that when he has "to go"....he really has "to go". Those are the negatives. On the positive side, he already knows the sign for potty & has shown an interest when my hubby & I use the bathroom. He is also not one to sit around in a poopy diaper. He will fuss when he needs to be changed. Finally, he is a people pleaser. He will do just about anything for applause. LOL. I think that once he is physically stronger, then we'll be able to start exploring the concept. I'm hoping to start by late summer, early fall. Keeping my fingers crossed for both of us! In the meantime, I'll keep checking the blogs to see what's worked for those of you have braved the training before us! Good luck. :)

mrsstrickland said...

My son trained at 33 months. He does not have Down syndrome, so I dont know if my hints will help or not, but I will share.

He was in diapers, and I noticed he woke up from nap dry three days in a row, so I took that as he was ready. We bought underwear and made a chart. When he peed, he got one sticker, poop got two. When all his sticker spots were full, we went to Monkey Joes (his favorite place). He took right to it.

My one tip? If he is unsteady on the potty, and wont stand to pee yet, you can sit behind him on the adult potty. This is what I have to do in public when he needs to poop. He stands to pee now, but still feels like he is falling in when he needs to poop.

Oh- also teach him to "point your pee pee down" when he sits to pee... that will save your pants! ;)

Good luck mama!!

Rochelle said...

Oh the fun of potty training! We are right there with ya.
I found with Aidan he figured out that pull ups were the same as a diaper so as soon as I switched him to underwear he got it and was trained within a few days.
Alayna is doing really well and signing or saying potty when she needs to go.
You have the right attitude, he will do it in his timing. I have found that both my kids potty trained early ds or not.
Good luck.

Kathy said...

Hey Ria-it's so cool that you are starting this process. Evan is only 16 months and I am scared of this particular goal, but i am hoping to start early in case we want to have him in "regular" preschool. kids usually have to be potty trained first. Because of that, I went to a local support group presentation on potty training to get some initial info. One idea is I guess they make pull ups that turn cold when they are wet, so if the actually feeling of wetness doesn't do it, maybe the temperature change will. Another suggestion was the rewards may have to be really good, such as a video (yes in the bathroom) if praise doesn't do the trick. They also mentioned what you said about the cumulative rewards not sinking in yet. Same with going to a favorite place. The reward has to be perfectly timed. They said a foot stool is very important if child's feet do not reach the ground. I am going through the powerpoint handout as i type. :) Also says here that child should be rewarded for all appropriate toileting behavior including: pulling pants up and down, walking to toilet independently, recognizing the need to go and remaining dry between sittings. it says rewards need to be powerful and frequent, faded out as child is successful. this is interesting, it says to limit the child's access to favorite foods/toys to increase motivation; use those things as rewards for potty. it also says to put them on every 30 minutes and in the beginning stages they may need to sit up to 5 minutes. use a timer if necessary and provide praise for sitting on the toilet. for poopy it says to keep them on there longer than pee and provide a bigger reward. sorry this comment is so long, but it may help some other people. good luck and looking forward to hearing about the progress!

heidi marie said...

wow, you are on top of things. i don't know when we are going to start potty trainging with henry. the boys with that i know all were potty trained around three to four. i hope to try before school next year. he'll be three and an half. we'll see. justin's typical nephew just got potty trained and he's four so i don't feel so bad not even beginning the adventure.

Raquel said...

Hi Ria,
Noah has been telling us he has to go potty since before 3 yrs. One thing I have learned that is important, the standing up to go potty, so over-rated!
I still have him sit down (age 4) because it's easier for him. He can get on/off the potty and go without getting his pants all wet!
Also, if he does have an accident. let him take off his dirty clothes on his own and put them in the laundry.
He will be independent in no time! Use big boy underware: he doesn't want his knowledge to go without an audience, so use his tips and we'll see all of you on Friday evening!!!


andrea said...

Hi, I've been following your blog for a couple of months and I find it very informative. Thank you for all the work you put in it.

Potty training.
My advice is not for you but for parents with newborn babies (sorry).
My daughter has Down syndrome and she was dry trained by 10-11 months. That's when she last wore a nappy. (At home she didn't need it even before that.)

We started Elimination Communication at week 2 and it was a success - not only in potty training but in gaining confidence and pride in times when no one know a bit about her abilities and future. I highy recommend the method for all parents ot children with learning difficulties.

Kate said...

We're in the thick of the potty thing right now too. Started with Quinn when he was about 3-1/2 (he's 4-1/2 now). We began by just putting him on the potty right before bath time & have slowly added other times as well. It took awhile, but he was doing great & would sometimes even tell me when he had to go (though he said "poop" for everything - boys seem to really like saying that word!) He has back-slid a bit the past couple of months & is often resistant to being taken to the bathroom, but once we're in there he does fine. We're at the point now where we really need to make the switch to underwear though... he has regressed to just going in his pull-ups like they are diapers, mostly when he is in the middle of something fun & doesn't want to stop what he is doing. Am now trying the "every hour" routine when we are at home. Love the idea of pullups over the underwear - will try that out. Part of it is my reluctance to deal with wet/poopy underwear several times a day, or accidents on my couch, but it is time to step things up.

A couple things that have worked well for us:
*We have the same PECS taped to the wall in the bathroom that they do at school - pictures that outline each step in the process (i.e. pull down pants, pull down underwear, etc)
*Quinn is not motivated by sweets or stickers or any of the usual potty bribes, but he does LOVE books. So I get stacks of them from the library that he can only look at while on the potty.
*Praise, praise, praise! Never thought I would find myself applauding for anyone else's bodily functions, but it does seem to work to keep the potty-party a super fun experience.
Am really hoping we can have him a bit more independent by the time he starts Kindergarten in the fall, but realistically I think we have a way to go. My younger son turns three next week & we're working on his potty training as well. Yep, it's a non-stop potty party at our place!

Erika said...

I attended a class this sat at our DSAH, given by Joanne Mothes.. (are any of you familiar with her? she lives in Ohio and tutors children with Ds and has the most amazing advice ever).
We are not quite there yet, but will be starting the sitting on the potty real soon, but lots of my friends have used her advice and have been real successful.
(copied from my blog)

Here are few tips:
With a child with Ds DON’T wait for when THEY are ready, cause guess what, they will never be ready if you leave it up to them. Regardless of what people think of our kids, our kids are BRILLIANT and they find ways out of things, and they will manipulate you,… oh, they will! Ethan has us wrapped around his tiny pudgy finger, and HE KNOWS IT.
Start sitting your child on the potty as soon as they can sit up. Get them used to the feeling of sitting on the potty. Make it a routine, ex. after breakfast, after lunch and after dinner. Just sit them there for a minute or so.
Don’t make it fun! Don’t bring in toys and books into the restroom. Don’t give the child a reason to become distracted.
When you are actively potty training your child, stick to the underwear! Don’t confuse the child with one day a diaper, the next day with underwear. Be consistent. Plus the underwear gives them the sensation of being wet. Pick a long weekend when there is absolutely nothing else to do. I have seen where people have taken a whole week off from work, others a long holiday weekend.
If they wet themselves, let the urine run down their legs, then do the run to the potty exercise 6 times in a row. (Run to the potty, pull their underwear down, sit on the potty, get back up run back,… do this 6 times in a row) The concept is, the child should hate to do this so much, they will not want to wet themselves anymore.
And reward them with more drinks! Whatever their favorite drink is, we are trying to fill up their little bladders. Potty training is the only exception where a child can be rewarded with a treat. Keep a treat such as M&M’s or Goldfish, but only use that treat for potty training… “potty treat”.
If your child is finally able to use the potty, but needs to be reminded of using the potty, alarms and timers work wonders. Set a timer as a reminder that the child needs to go use the potty. Timer goes off, the child goes to the potty. Have the child wear a watch with a timer.
The sooner we can successfully potty train our children, the better of a chance they have to be able to go to school and be in a fully included kindergarten.

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Kelly said...

Today is day 1 for us. Landon is just over 3 years old and our process has been identical. Instead of going with pullups, however, we did use the training underwear - he definitely gets slightly upset to be in wet underwear, especially since it is cold today. At nap, we did put a pullup over the underwear, again to give the sensation. I downloaded the Pullups potty training app, however Landon won't have it with him during the week because of me working, so I did create a chart for him that gives visual cues and he can put a star next to the tasks that he accomplishes. Haven't figured out the best way to implement because I think it best for him to put a star immediately after each task, but hard to do when transitioning through each part of the potty process. So far we've had 4 successes, two pee accidents, one poop accident. Hopefully, more success and less accidents tomorrow...fingers crossed!!

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