It's time for yet another update in our continuing struggle for a diaper-free world.
Looking back, I think we may have tried to push our youngest too far, too fast in the transitional steps. Lots of kids may be able to make the jump from reward for voiding to a reward for voiding in the toilet but as all families with autism know, sometimes we have to break things down into smaller steps.
So we're trying some baby steps. Here's a recap of our steps so far:
Step one: reward him for pooping. Doesn't matter where. The point is to associate a BM with the reward, make it into something positive rather than something negative. So every time he did a poop, he got a treat.
Step two: bigger treats. We had a bit of a stall with the reward. He still wasn't telling us when he had gone most of the time. So we made the reward bigger and more important to him. This ended up motivating him to start telling us rather than us having to check him. It made life a little harder on us since we made the reward his screen time (TV, iPad, computer) which meant no electronic babysitters at our convenience.
Step three: a compromise. We were having trouble with reserving the screen time so we decided on a compromise. He could have 20 minutes each at breakfast and lunch and he could earn an extra 20 minutes by drinking extra fluids in the morning (to help keep things moving smoothly and avoid unpleasant associations).
And now we come to the next stage in our plan: upping the requirement for the reward. Now he has to tell us right away if he's pooped. And then he has to sit on the toilet for five minutes (with the iPad ... how did people toilet train before Apple?). If he hasn't told us right away, then he still doesn't get his screen time.
I'm hoping I can use this stage to make him even more aware of his body's signals. If he's paying attention and catches himself pooping, then I have a chance to get him on the toilet and make a big deal about him finishing there.
Thus far, I at least know that I haven't made the step too big. He's having a reasonable success rate. Tip: you rarely want the success rate to be below 75% for whatever you're trying to teach your child with autism. Or at least, we haven't been able to teach our kids a skill if they can't make that basic level at the start.
This is all going to take longer than I'd like. I'd really hoped to have this dealt with before school started in September. I'm terrified about him having an accident at school and it becoming one of those scarring life events. But if I push too fast, I'll lose. Better slow and steady and done, no matter how much my impulses shout at me to speed things up.
Maybe we'll be lucky enough to be done by Christmas.