Obviously I can only tell you what it is like potty training MY child with Down’s syndrome, and I can confirm that just as any cross-section of children, all children with Down’s syndrome are different too.
Seren doesn’t talk – she can’t say “I need a wee” or “toilet” or even “potty”. There-in lies my first stumbling block… how to know if she can actually tell she needs the loo or has any kind of control.
So, for the last few months, we have been sitting her on the toilet at bath time or occasionally sporadically during the day “just for fun”, to get her used to the toilet, the bathroom, the process of flushing and hand washing. Occasionally she would release her bladder, and once or twice we timed it right for a poo – to us, this was huge progress, but we kept her in nappies 90% of the time, and the 10% of the time she was “nappy free” at home, we had to accept we would be finding puddles of wee all over the place – and the garden became peppered with Seren’s poo’s (which Ava would usually alert me to and I would have to scoop up in a nappy bag). The joy of this lovely weather though is that the accidental poo’s in the garden were easier to deal with than if they had been done indoors. Irritatingly, one of Seren’s favourite places to poo was in the paddling pool and I had to become pretty adept at fishing them out with an inside out carrier bag before emptying, sterilising and refilling the paddling pool. It was becoming a bit tedious but hey ho – good bodily function experience for Seren.
We have been repeating the words wee, poo and toilet and using a slightly adapted Makaton sign for “toilet”. As you can see in the picture below, it requires a certain amount of dexterity, which Seren hasn’t got. Seren can’t isolate fingers movement, so we are doing an open handed version of this:
I kept telling myself to buy potties, but I will be honest here – I HATE potties. Now I don’t mind potties for wees, but having to scrape poop out of potties leaves me cold. I really don’t enjoy that part of motherhood at all… Ava only used her potty for wees when she was little and we binned it a long time ago. That said, my recent garden clearing and paddling pool poo fishing seemed to have dulled my senses a bit, so I invested in 2 shiny new Pourty Potties. They arrived last week.
I cannot tell you how AMAZING this last week or so has been.
I left a potty in the garden one afternoon a few days ago while I was making the kids dinner. Seren came running in clapping and pointing, so I followed her outside. She lead me over to her potty and it took me a minute to realise what I was looking at, but it was a huge poo!! She had taken herself over to the potty and pooped on it!!! I have never, ever, ever been so happy to see a poo in a potty. We did the poop victory dance, I clapped and cheered, we both crouched down to discuss the contents of the potty and Seren was SO pleased with herself.
Every afternoon, she has been going nappy-less and the potties have been out. I remind her to go every 30-45 minutes or so and mostly she releases her bladder. We sing, we cheer, we tip the wee down the loo and Seren waves frantically “bye-bye!” she shouts.
Last week while I was on a rare evening out at friends, I came home to a new milestone reached… Matt had put Seren to bed in a nappy, but she wouldn’t settle. After half an hour or so he went upstairs and she was pointing at her nappy so he took it off and put her on the loo (we have a soft/toddler toilet seat on the loo upstairs), and she pooped. It was a revelation for her (and us) that she could indicate she needed a poo and hold until she was put on the toilet. She is an absolute GENIUS!!
A couple of nights ago, we had the same, and again last night – she wouldn’t settle, so we sat her on the loo and she pooped.
So in the last couple of days, I’ve decided to try her in knickers for the very first time – both at home and for short outings. I accept we are going to have lots and lots and lots of accidents, but I think we are ready to give this a go. She had one wee accident at the park (where she was far too busy to wee in her potty) the other day, but the rest of that day she remained dry – including 2 short return car journeys and play at a friends house (outdoors, I wouldn’t have been as confident inside!). We are still having accidents if I forget to put her on the potty or if she has a huge drink or if she is too “busy” to think about the potty, but that was always going to be an inevitable part of this process.
She only very occasionally gets on the potty of her own free will and does a wee, and this is only at home. I have to stick her on the potty every so often, especially when out and about, but I am sure it will come with time.
For now I am packing a huge bag of spare clothes when we go out, and for everyone locally, I will be the one lugging a big potty around with me everywhere I go.
I think we will be doing a mix of nappy / knicker days depending on her mood and what we are doing… the other day for example, she woke up in the worst mood and was tantruming all morning; it would not have been a good day to be chasing her round with a potty. Yesterday we had a nappy-while-out day too because I was rushing and we were spending a lot of time in the car. But we WILL get there, little by little, slowly, slowly, slowly!
This is going to be a long old process, but I can confirm SHE IS ON HER WAY!!