Browsing Tag

potty training

Special Needs


Sebastian will be fifteen months old soon, at fourteen months Ariella had just started to crawl. I try not to compare siblings but S is a constant reminder of typical and it is difficult, perhaps even impossible to not notice. I remember being surprised the first day that S looked at my face and brought his own hand up to touch my cheek, I could tell by the way he had done this with such a light touch it was intentional. You only had to look at his face to know he was making a connection, a social one in that moment. I can’t remember how old he was but it must have been younger than six months old. I see S as so much older because the baby stage with A has stretched out in front of us, every single step, every skill takes so much energy for everyone involved.

We have a review meeting planned for next week which is focused around whether or not A fits the profile for a diagnosis of Autism spectrum disorder (ASD), this follows a multidisciplinary review that was done back in January. No matter what the outcome of the review I know because I live with A that she is autistic. Every single waking moment is focused around transitions, anxiety and sounds. I know because she has never once held her hand to my face or looked me in the eye the way S does. I know because I still wait for us to have a real conversation. If Autism isn’t the right word then we are making our own profile for a neurological way of thinking that has no diagnosis at present.

It will be nice to draw a line under the last year of confusion on every diagnosis that we’ve gained so far and understand. With understanding we can tailor experiences going forward and we can read and learn how to best support A to enable her happiness. We can stop trying to make a round peg fit in a square hole, I don’t care if we have a round hole in a field full of square holes. But I do care about the unbalance and distress that is caused by the former and while we don’t need a diagnosis it will help a lot with understanding.

In the evenings when I am stirring up the second dose of Ariella’s medicine, watching her eat her ice cream (which she has to have after her evening meal else the world has ended – we make our own now with smoothies) I often think about how something simple like this has become so normal to us and yet for most children, taking a twice daily medicine which you need to give a good stir due to the large quantity of pills dissolving in it would be a massive challenge. Routine has a large role in this, we have a daily rhythm which is held up by blutac and keeps things ticking over. It helps a lot with A’s anxiety and she finds reading the visual timeline very helpful. Somedays it does feel too rigid for me but I know if we don’t keep to it then we are more likely to see a flare of challenging behaviour (kicking, biting, screaming, hitting, repeated phrases, head butting, pushing).

Motivator toys sit in a little accessible basket nearby, only to be used while sitting

We’ve started potty training, yippee! Part of fully understanding the different ways and approaches to how children with ASD think has helped me buy more appropriate reading materials. I’ll have to keep “Oh Crap, Potty training” to hand for S when it’s his turn to potty train, instead I’ve been reading “Ready, Set, Potty” which is aimed at potty training children with Autism and developmental disorders. It makes so much sense to me now why typical potty training methods just won’t work, you are almost relying on a set of typical behaviours and for a child to know what to do naturally. Let me tell you, the only thing that has ever come naturally to A is eating. That’s it, the only one thing we’ve been able to follow her lead for, which is really strange for me because I generally believe that you should follow the child. Only issue is of course that relies on the child having a desire to go.

With that said, potty training so far is going really well given the challenge of communication and resistance to change. We are using a visual time line and motivating toys, no going back now! I’m really keen to keep going and reach that level of independence for A. It will be a joint effort between us and nursery but we are all working for the same goal and I couldn’t ask for more right now. When it comes to potty training S I am hoping it will feel like a breeze! It is the last day of term today and I am expecting the change in routine to holiday to be a challenge for A, I expect Monday will bring lots of challenging behaviours but I am also excited by the possibility of really cracking on with potty training at home. I think having consistency and being able to take A to the potty every hour in the same place will really help, nursery is of course a new environment whereas home is not.

We have visuals stuck up on a mirror nearby and the bathroom is themed with teddies!

Despite how noticeable the difference is, it is different but not less. It has allowed me to think about things in a way I would never have. Would I even know what a visual timeline was? Or have such a understanding of developmental delay and rigid thoughts/routines? I don’t think so. Things are taken quite literally by A and sometimes that can cause some of the biggest laughs ever for everyone involved. I am constantly reminded how lucky I am actually to be part of both parenting worlds, although I wouldn’t wish the struggle on a child it has taught me to look at the world differently and that there are qualities within people that are rare and valuable beyond what we see on Instagram and social media.

Noticeably different but not noticeably wrong.

Being Mum Parenting Weekly Update

22 Months Old – All wrapped up

In two months time I can stop counting in months, when someone asks me how old Ariella is I can just say. Two, she is two. That should be a lot easier to remember! This week Ariella turned twenty-two months old but that’s not the only thing that occurred this week. We had a handful of firsts, the first time Ariella has stacked a block of cubes and the first time Ariella has ever used her potty. Every week we see progress but some weeks are more remarkable than others, I think this is a remarkable week. Not only have we seen obvious big milestones but we’ve seen these leaps in fine motor and problem solving/understanding cascade over a multitude of different activities.

In preparation for her two-year review I wanted to introduce Ariella to lacing beads, these are particularly tricky for children with hypermobility. I started by asking Ariella to hold the bead while I thread the lace through and then I took over holding the bead while I asked her to pull the lace the other side. I picked the Melissa and Doug lacing bead set as it had numbers and I try to incorporate numbers in to any activity I can with Ariella, numbers seem to be her key enjoyment and engagement is really key.

Practicing lacing beads

On Monday had a completely free day, so I took Ariella shopping for some more swimwear it was cold but we ventured out wrapped up warm. In the afternoon we went to a new park with two of Ariella’s little friends. All the toddlers were wrapped up warm but in the end I think the chill won and we all headed home, it’s been pretty cold here in Surrey I should have known that this was the start of the dip in temperature again, which could only bring with it snow.

A mixture from Gap and Next

Fun at the park with friends

Tuesday we had another music class in the morning, Ariella’s new-found love for her music class is so relieving. Her little monkey has proved it’s worth, she takes him with her every week and holds on to him throughout. She is also getting much better with passing the instruments back to the class teacher, now that she gets the monkey in return. I’m so glad we didn’t give up on the classes as we really nearly did, she enjoys it a lot and it’s helped hugely with fine motor. In the afternoon caught up again with one of Ariella’s friends at a local soft play centre, she amazed me further by showing some confidence with playing outside the “baby” area which she is too old for now. She enjoyed being in a bigger pit of balls than normal and we spent lots of time walking holding hands around where previously she would be quite anxious and want to be held

Ariella had some repeated blood tests to contend with on Wednesday, the day itself was pretty rammed with activities. We had an early Brunch due to the schedule of the day in a local Sainsbury’s cafe then went to Hydrotherapy over lunch time, straight after swimming I put on some magic cream ready for her blood test. She did so well I don’t know if it was because she was strapped in to the car seat or because this time around I didn’t try to use clingfilm (the nurse suggested it!) instead opting for the patches that the pharmacy could easily have provided. We drove to the Hospital, parked up and alas Ariella was fast asleep in the back – it was bound to happen as Hydrotherapy wipes her out and it was way past her nap time. Begrudgingly I scooped her up into her Stroller and headed off to the children’s department hoping she might fall asleep again as we were early.

Sitting outside the room waiting for our turn all you could hear were the cries of the children before you. I’m so proud to say that Ariella when having her blood taken she didn’t cry, she didn’t move, she looked directly at the needle which is more than I can ever do on myself. Both of the staff looked completely shocked, so was I – last time we took Ariella she cried and struggled so this was very unexpected. They put a nice little cartoon plaster on and attached a bag to catch a urine sample. I’m expecting her results to come back okay, they are just checking to make sure that the last abnormality was due to just a virus at the time.

Needless to say Ariella did not wee in the bag while we were in the Hospital, we were sent home with some spare bags and a tube just like last time. All in this is the reason that my Thursday morning started with me holding a bag of wee in one hand while trying to funnel it into a tube in the other at 7am.

Friday morning Ariella had a physiotherapy session which went well, as normal Ariella showed signs of progression and we’ve been given a body wrap to wear around her tummy to help her with her core. She doesn’t need to wear it all the time as it’s important that she get time without it to strengthen fully but we intend to do more walking practice with her wearing it as it should help. In the afternoon daddy came home earlier and this is when the magical block building occurred, I can’t tell you how many times we’ve gone over stacking blocks. Often she would try one and find it difficult to manipulate the blocks enough to get it to sit in a stable way. During the last week since the big emotional leap she had, learning of “self” her interest in objects has really come on too. I think given how she has been spinning cups and tipping bags of toddler crisps out on the floor I should have known she might have been showing a big change in fine motor abilities.

This evening Ariella announced for the first time that she needed to do a “poo”! It was the quietest announcement she has ever made but Daddy heard it and we leapt into action, grabbing the potty and sitting her on it. I can’t say I was really looking forward to potty training, much like weaning it’s just another thing to clean. Part of the reason why I never prevailed with teaching the cats to use the bathroom instead of their litter box too, it’s all a lot of mess.

Here we are at the weekend, I wonder what tomorrow has in store for us – so far it’s impromptu potty training!

“The moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease forever to be able to do it.”
–  Peter Pan, J.M. Barrie