Do kids on the spectrum potty train later than NT kids?

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ErickaRae
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18 Jul 2012, 8:02 pm

My almost 3 yo son was diagnosed with PDD-NOS (suspected aspie) and we have been working on potty training sort of. He sits on the potty at night before bath and he gets a little treat. He's never done anything on the potty and shows little to no interest. My husband is chomping at the bit to get him potty trained. I've spoken to a few moms with kids on the spectrum and I've heard a few things that concern me about trying to train now.

1. Kids on the spectrum don't have the communication skills to let you know when they have to go.

My son has lots of words but isn't consistently stringing them together to form sentences other than what he's heard someone else say or that he's heard on tv and even when he does use sentences they are often out of context.

2. Another mom told me that her developmental pediatrician said that kids on the spectrum often don't sense that they have to go until it's almost too late. That there's something different in the way their bodies send these messages to the brain.

When I went to a mom's support group recently almost all of the moms had kids 6 or older and none of their kids was consistently potty trained until 4, some as late as 6.

So I'm wondering is it really the right time? What were your experiences with potty training your kids??



MomofThree1975
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18 Jul 2012, 8:22 pm

My 3 1/2 yo son has been potty trained for a few months now. We started before he was 3 but it was such a struggle, we went back to diapers. Then a little after he turned 3, we started again with pull-ups and potty. He has a communication delay. Once he understood what we wanted him to do, he did it in the potty. Then he immediately decided that he didn't want to use the potty and insisted on using the toilet. When he used the toilet, we always asked him if he wanted to do #2. He then would try and sometimes he could do it on command. So, he then decided that everytime he went to do #1, he would repeat the question that I would ask him about doing #2 and when I repeated the question again, he would then do #2.

We lasted like that for a few weeks until his teacher started seeing him (2 hours a day 5 days a week). She said to take the pull ups off and then ask him if he wants to pee pee. I would then tell him to say, "I want to pee pee" and when he did, I would immediately take him to the bath room. Then he would do #1 and then say, "I want to do do" and do #2. The next phase was then to leave him alone and let him independently ask. Sometimes if he is occupied, he will do the pee pee dance until almost the last minute. Then he will run to the bathroom himself and go. Or, sometimes he will ask to go and I will follow him. He has even figured out that if he asks to go, it will delay him doing something he doesn't want to do.

All of this took about 6 months. However, he has been sleeping through the nights, dry, since we was at least 2. Then he would wake and empty his bladder in his diaper. I think he was more than ready when we started and he just wanted to move everything along so he went directly to the toilet. However, my 6 yo son who is NT was potty trained at 2 1/2 so I know he is a little late. But I am so proud of him that he just conquered this whole potty training thing.



Eureka-C
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18 Jul 2012, 8:32 pm

My son has PDD-NOS, but not diagnosed until this year (age 11). He was behind in learning to potty train. He learned to do #2 in the potty about age 3 and a 1/4, but had no clue about peeing in the potty. We tried at age 2, 2 1/2, 3, no luck and gave up each time. He had developed an aversion to the potty by now. I began giving him an m&m every time he sat on the potty, then every time he pee'd in the potty. Once he made the connection, he would run in there and squeeze out a little just to get an m&m. This was my experience. He was almost 4 when he finally was "potty trained" although he had worn underwear since a little after 3 because it was required by the daycare.

My NT daughter on the other hand refused to use the potty. The daycare worker started taking her to the potty with the "big" kids (3 year olds) and she saw they had panties, so she wanted panties. I sent her to daycare the next day in panties and she was "potty trained" about age 2 1/2. The total ease of this experience in no way prepared me for my son. :)

One thing I have noticed about my son is that he tends to learn in spurts. He will be behind, then all of a sudden he will move and catch up or even be ahead.



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18 Jul 2012, 8:39 pm

My kids trained a tad "late" compared to their peers. Not a lot. But what was different for them was the way it happened, and I share it because I know other spectrummy kids who trained the same way.

Neither of them showed any interest. At all. It was like an exercise in futility. I tried stickers, cheerios in the toilet, schedules, everything. And they were just Not. Interested.

Then all of a sudden one day they were, and by the end of the week they were fully trained. My son just one day proclaimed that he needed some underwear, and when I told my daughter she couldn't go to school all day while she was still wearing pull-ups, she went home and took them off and never wore one after that. She just put on panties and stayed dry. And they both were night trained the same time they were day trained.

It is true that many train late, but I have also known some who train early and some who train on time.

My advice would be to take his lead. Give him the opportunities. Play around with the idea of stickers, m & ms, etc, to see if anything works, but don't get too stressed if it doesn't "take" right away. He'll get there in his own way, in his own time.



MMJMOM
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18 Jul 2012, 8:59 pm

My son potty trained a few weeks before he turned 3. He showed ZERO interest never told me he was wet or had poop in his diaper. I showed him a few times, and he sat on the potty a handful of times, and one day he ASKED me to go potty, and he WENT. And he went from that time on, even overnight. We DID have poop issues, he didnt get poop trained for another 6 months. He had NO idea he was pooping, he would be playing and just poop in hie underwear, and keep on playing! eventually he got it. So, for pee it was before 3, and poop it was about 3 1/2. Not too bad!

My NT DD potty trained a month after she turned 2.


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Shellfish
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18 Jul 2012, 10:05 pm

DS potty trained at around 3, so I think more or less average for a boy.


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18 Jul 2012, 11:06 pm

I am in my early 50s, so I don't remember exactly when I potty trained, but I do believe I took longer than others. Even after I was potty trained, I still had problems for years because of a weak bladder, and because I didn't like to poop in public toilets when young. Fortunately, I don't care about that last one now. Even now I still occasionally have bladder problems, as it's still a little weak. If I am really focused on something I will occasionally have accidents. I also on rare occasions have poop accidents due to diarrhea, as I have IBS. Usually I have slight constipation, but occasionally I will eat something that later causes the opposite reaction.

Based on my research, problems with the GI tract, the bowels, and the bladder are not that uncommon on the spectrum. Lucky me, I have all three!



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19 Jul 2012, 5:10 am

My son has Classic Autism (non-verbal) and he is coming up to Six and is not at all potty trained and still wears diapers. We tried pretty hard a year ago for 10 days straight with assistance and expert guidance, we did everything we could and he didn't get it - but we are confident he will one day.



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19 Jul 2012, 7:36 am

Our big problem was he did not want to interrupt his fun to go potty. It took a good while for him to understand that it took me longer to clean the mess(which interrupted his fun longer) than if he did it in the right place to begin with. Even though he hates being dirty, the siren call of fun was too hard to resist. We also had a problem getting him to to do #1 like Daddy. He got into the habit of sitting, and he does not like to change how things are done. We did not prioritize it, but it is fixed now, anyway.

YMMV

How good are your son's receptive language skills? You could get him a book, with plenty of cute pictures, and some PECS stuff to put by the bathroom. Also you may have to have him watch your husband go for #1, later.



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19 Jul 2012, 7:47 am

He will Nostromo! My 13 yr old son (severe autism) just finally started doing poos in the toilet before xmas last year, it was our xmas miracle! We had tried continence nurses and psych help, each and every year for a period of a month or so at a time. There was not a lot of progress on the poos (he was toilet timed for wees at about 9 yrs) but the poos (lots and often) mostly arrived with little (or no) notice. He is also hyperactive so to get him to sit on the toilet for even a minute to see if he would go was near impossible. Then 2 days before xmas, he said poo, got up and went to the toilet himself... it was a miracle! Still going strong, though he still wears pullups as he has the occassional accident, once a month
I had hoped each year as his b'day came that by the next one, he would be toilet trained. It finally happened!

I also have an almost 4.5yr old with PDD-NOS who toilet trained late- it was the month of his 4th b'day, after resisting and seeming to not understand when most kids his age were going through it. We went straight to the toilet with him, he hated the potty. He was wearing pullups in the day and wetting them and I was trying to get him to do the wees on the toilet but he'd just sit and do nothing (or do a little dribble) and 10 mins later his pullups would be wet...? Anyway, it was warm weather and I thought I'd just try him in underwear to get him used to them. he had a couple of accidents and the little champ just stayed dry from then, poos too! He is still wet at night though, no progress there yet and if he falls asleep in the day, I have to put a nappy on whilst he is sleeping or he will wet himself, such a deep sleeper.

My advice to the OP just take it easy, make it as relaxed as possible and cross the fingers (but not the legs :wink: ) And if there is no progress for a few weeks maybe give it a rest and go back to it in another month?
Good Luck!



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19 Jul 2012, 7:54 am

My ASD son is 4 and still in diapers.



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19 Jul 2012, 8:20 am

Mine didn't train until around 4 or so...close to 5. I didn't know he had autism and was pretty concerned about it because I had no idea what was going on; fortunately his preschool was very understanding and patient and helped me through it. He was fully capable of using the bathroom, very early on, too - he just categorically refused. We finally got him to use the bathroom for urination, and I stopped putting diapers ON him, but when he needed to defacate, he'd go get a pull-up, put it on, and I'd have to clean him up.

At some point, he finally decided to give it up - we did eventually find that a "training" seat on the toilet and a stepstool so his feet wouldn't dangle worked better for him than a potty.



ErickaRae
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19 Jul 2012, 8:10 pm

Thanks for the responses everybody. I guess I shouldn't be surprised that it seems every experience is different just like every kid on the spectrum is different.

I think I'm just feeling anxious about it because my soon to be exhusband is pushing when I feel like he isn't ready yet. My soon to be ex travels 3 weeks out of the month so he's a drop in dad at best. I don't consider him an expert on our son.

But on the other hand I don't want to underestimate what my son is capable of simply because he's on the spectrum.

Sorry if it sounds like I'm wavering I am!! He was just diagnosed a few months ago so I'm still trying to figure out how to balance meeting his needs vs. making the mistake of thinking he isn't capable of something that he really is. I don't ever want to underestimate him.



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19 Jul 2012, 8:15 pm

You will probably always struggle with trying to figure out if you are underestimating him or pushing him too hard.

My best advice to you is to throw nearly everything you have ever heard or learned out of the window and just breathe. Watch your son. Learn him. Resist the urge to make comparisons to anyone else (ha...that one is almost impossible IMHO). Just pay deep attention to him. Usually when I do that, I am able to understand and I am better able to know what to do.

Also know from this point forward that you will make mistakes. It happens. Very rarely are they fatal (literally). Kids are resilient. And sometimes it is the mistakes that help draw you closer together. Because sometimes that's when you learn the most.

Good luck.



momsparky
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19 Jul 2012, 8:58 pm

Yup. That is the biggest challenge, to me, parenting a kid on the spectrum: setting your expectations correctly. My son's now 11, and I'm still not sure I handled that right, and I couldn't even say whether or not I'd do something different if I got a do-over.

However, he did eventually get it and eventually I realized it wasn't worth worrying about quite so much - he didn't have accidents terribly much more or longer than any NT kid (typical of my son's development trajectory: no change, no change, no change, no change...suddenly does it overnight like he's been doing it all his life.) We did have a longer struggle with bedwetting (though still within the range of "normal;" not that it matters.)



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20 Jul 2012, 6:57 am

My daughter was 2 1/2 when she was day time trained (which is average for a girl) and not quite 3 when she was night time trained (which is early). Boys tend to be slower anyway, so 3 sounds OK. My friend's NT kids were much later. The eldest is almost 7 and just out of night time pull-ups.

However, my daughter is now 6 1/2 and we have problems with her understanding that she needs to go to the toilet, when there's one available. For example, we can be in a shopping mall and about to leave. We tell her she should visit the toilet, because it will be a while before we are near another one. She says, 'I don't need', and no amount of persuasion will make her go. Then we enter the car park and suddenly she's 'bursting' and may even wet herself. Going from not needing to wetting herself, in 5 mins, says to me that she probably could have gone back at the mall, but decided it could wait. Also, I can tell she needs to go, as she sticks her bum out a bit. Sometimes, even when it looks like she's in obvious discomfort, she will deny that she needs to go. I really don't think there's anything physically wrong with her bladder and she's not afraid of the toilet, it just appears to be her strong will or, dare I say, pig headednesss. So, that's something we're dealing with just now. She doesn't appear to have any issues at school, however.

We have our first autism assessment appointment next week and I'm hoping they can offer some advice then.


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