Big news. Huge. Sebastian went potty on his Flamingo toilet seat this week. Five times. (But who’s counting ?!) I am so proud of him I could burst. This week we are really celebrating.
The thing about having a kiddo that has a physical disability and is also non-verbal is that it’s difficult to know whether he can control when he goes or not. It’s something we have to figure out.
Flashback to two and a half years ago: the summer Sebastian had just turned three I checked out all the potty books from the library. The ones for kids and the ones for adults on how to teach the kids. I read Diaper Free Before Three and Ready, Set, Potty! The latter focused on kids with disabilities and basically said anyone can be potty trained with the right schedule/approach. I was hopeful.
We bought a toddler sized Baby Bjorn (red) potty seat and a cushioned Elmo toilet seat, his favorite color and character. I put Seb on the potty every morning and before nap and bedtimes. It was difficult because I was holding him up and his body couldn’t relax as he was also working hard at holding himself up. Both of the books suggested keeping a schedule of when he went potty throughout the day. Doing this would involve wearing training pants for a few days/week and staying in to monitor and record those times. This seemed impossible with our schedule. Therapy. School. Doctor appointments. And in fact, it was. I also realized after a few weeks of holding him on the potty, he couldn’t go because he needed a more supportive seat which would allow him to sit independently. So we stopped.
The next summer Tallula was due so I didn’t want to try with a major life change. We still didn’t have proper toilet seating and he was too big for the toddler seats I had bought the previous summer. (School holidays are the best time for potty training because you need to be close to the toilet!)
So we waited. This last summer we tried out a Flamingo toilet chair with Sebastian’s OT and our vendor. We applied for funding through Easter Seals and our insurance and were able to get most of it funded (with all the supports Sebastian needs the price tag is about $4600). It arrived at the end of October and we were very excited to start using it.
When we got his special toilet seat we put him on it in the morning and before bed. Just to try it out. Get a feel for it. We read books and just gave him some time to relax. He was excited. So was Tallula. She pulled up Sebastian’s old, toddler sized, potty seat and sat down too. Because we weren’t on school holidays I wasn’t focused on potty training. I just wanted him to get used to sitting on the toilet chair and trying to go.
After a couple weeks he got sick so we stopped doing it. Then the holidays arrived and we went out of town. It’s been a few weeks since he’s used it. Until this week. This week we were home on holiday break and the weather was unbearably cold. Sebastian has been struggling with some congestion the past few weeks so we stayed in. This was a great opportunity to use the potty during the day, whenever he needed it or I had a chance to put him on it.
I watched his cues for going poo. Asked him if he needed to sit on the potty and he replied with his ‘yes’ smile. So on we went. And go he did. We also put him on first thing in the morning and before bath-time in the evening. When he didn’t need to poo, he peed. Which is a huge deal since he doesn’t have visible cues for peeing. We’ve been doing happy dances and hi-fives each time he goes. He is very proud of himself and we couldn’t be prouder or more excited. Another day this week he was grizzling in discomfort and I asked him if he needed to go potty and he answered ‘yes’ again. Meaningful communication coupled with the need to go is key and something we will continue to work on.
After he went this morning I told him once he gets really good at going potty in his Flamingo seat at home, he will be able to go at school. He was grinning from ear to ear.
Tallula loves to sit on the toilet on the Elmo potty seat next to Sebastian. She says ‘pee’ but doesn’t actually go. She wants to do what her big brother is doing. Which also means she wants to sit in his special seat. Although we let her climb into his Red Racer sometimes this one is just for Seb. And since she has one for herself, she doesn’t mind too much anyways. Two kids on the potty. Good times.
I am so excited about what lies ahead. I know we are just starting on this potty time journey but when we weren’t sure if and when it will ever happen, half the reward is just getting to the starting line.
Way to go Sebastian!