Sunday, March 27, 2011

Potty Trained in 4 Days

Not Matthew. We took the scenic route.

But Bridget Murphy's son, now 19 years old and in college, was completely potty trained in 4 days when he was 5-1/2 years old. Bridget Murphy is currently the Board President of the Down Syndrome Guild of Greater Kansas City. She created a 4-day potty training plan. It requires consistency, a lot of toilet training-devoted time, patience, and firm resolve.

I attended Bridget Murphy's potty training seminar last week. Her 4-day method was night-and-day different from the ABA (Applied Behavioral Anaylysis) toilet training method that I had just read a few days before her seminar.

Except during the first day when toileting is being introduced, the 4-day method was all about making the child solely responsible for toileting, no reward system, and absolutely no prompting (visual or verbal) to use the toilet. Her method is based on the assumption that a child can and will learn to self-regulate when the child has to deal with the natural consequences of not using the toilet when needed.

The ABA-based method involved adult assistance and prompting but eventually fading the prompts over a period of time.

Where We Are
We are currently somewhere in between or maybe on a super extended version of Day 1 of Bridget Murphy's method. We prompt. We ask Matthew if he is wet or dry and ask him to check his pants. If he says he is dry, we say, "Good, your pants are dry." If he says he is wet, we say, "You're wet. Let's go potty."

Sometimes he complies. More often though, he is resistant especially if he is doing a preferred activity and does not want to be interrupted. He'll flop and drop to the floor saying, "Nooooo!"

We don't have a set reward system in place for when he uses the toilet. We go with whatever he is interested in at that time. It usually helps us to avoid the flop and drop if we say, "Go potty and then blow bubbles (or whatever preferred activity he wants at that time)." So we don't necessarily "reward" as much as we just tell him what he will be doing next after he uses the toilet. We praised him for using the toilet but we've been fading that. The only "reward", if we call it that, is he gets to flush the toilet. He's happy with that.

Not For Everybody
Bridget Murphy's 4-day method worked with her son and several people that had tried it. And I've heard that ABA was very effective for several people as well. Different strategies work for different people depending on the many variables involved such as family circumstances.

And as much as I'd like to cut our potty training period short, the 4-day method won't work for Matthew unfortunately. Not right now anyway.

Her method requires the child to be able to dress and undress without assistance. Matthew still needs help and some prompting to take his pants on and he has trouble putting his pants back on. There was one time yesterday when he put on his underwear by himself without prompting from us. But he hasn't done it yet again since. Maybe if we waited a few more months until his fine motor is stronger and he can dress and undress unassisted, we can launch into the 4-day method. But until then, we'll do what we've been doing.

I will, however, tweak our strategy and adapt a few good ideas from the seminar.

1. Instead of wearing a pull-up over his underwear for car rides, we will eliminate the pull-up and put a puppy pad on his carseat.
2. Give him more opportunities to practice dressing and undressing.
3. Lessen prompting during the toileting process.

If Bridget Murphy has a seminar near your area, I would recommend going. Or perhaps your local DS Association would invite her as a speaker.


Beth @ Snaps Of Our Life said...

When we get back from our trip to Nebraska (Apr. 1-9) we are going to start potty-training both kids (3, w/Ds, 20mos, typical).

I have been saying I will potty train them for months, and I know they are ready. It's me who isn't.

evrfwd said...

So cool to hear what you thought of the lecture. She came to AZ and spoke to our group also. I was impressed with her story and her son's amazing accomplishments. I'm with you, we are going to tweak the program for now. I have been thinking that if she is not potty trained in a year then I may be ready for this strategy. I love the matter of fact approach to this process. No rewards, it is what it is, going to the bathroom, everyone does it. Looking forward to hearing about Matthews's progress.