Ideas that Worked in Other Families
The topic of toilet training comes up often among mothers of children with Down Syndrome. This article completes a series which began here with a description of the One Day method, and continues here with a not-so-rosy scenario of one child’s potty training day. Finally, in this article, other moms (and one dad) chime in with their own ideas.
A mom with two boys writes:
A couple of things that I tried to keep in mind:
Some think that boys tend to want to achieve this task at a later age than girls, so I didn’t even start trying with Josh seriously until he was three.
What seemed to work best was taking him out off diapers and Pull-Ups altogether and putting him in regular underwear. Josh hated the urine running down his legs, so that pretty much took care of that part of the toilet training. Trying this in the summer is highly recommenmded (grin).
The bowel movement training was a little tougher.
What I wanted to accomplish too was to have him toilet trained, not me. I wanted Josh to do his thing independently. So, I had my hubby install a vertical bar next to the toilet that Josh could hold on to. He didn’t seem very comfortable on the pot, and was too short to stand to urinate. We got him a little stool to stand on, and the bar to hang on to, and then he was good to go (no pun intended).
I didn’t want to deal with cleaning up the potty chair, so instead we got one of those toilet seats that fit right on the toilet … the luxury padded model with Looney Tunes characters (got it at Lowes), and the tall urine guard (very helpful for those of you with sons—the low ones don’t work). I taught him how to climb up on the thing.
I was also paranoid that he would decide to finger paint with poop as this seems to be a common “kid” thing, so I started discussing with him very early in the process that “poopy—yucky—we only poop in the potty.” When he had an accident in his underwear, I would take him with me to flush the mess down the toilet. The flip side of this was that he would sometimes decide to poop somewhere else…on the stairs, under the bed…oh, such fun. We would have “the talk” again, and I had him help clean up the mess.
He got to the point that he would urinate consistently, but the bowel movements were tougher. He had all of the “pieces” of the puzzle, but had problems putting it all together consistently.
A couple of years ago, there was a discussion about serotonin deficiency in kids with Down Syndrome and the use of Prozac (an SSRI—selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) in select patients (not for everyone—just for chronic constipation patients). I asked Dr. Leichtman if Josh would be a candidate, and he agreed. The Prozac was the addition that helped him put it all together. Within a couple of weeks, he was completely independent in toileting, day and night.
Oh, one other thing that helped along the way…this is going to sound gross, but it helped both of my boys. I would take them to the bathroom with me and encouage them to watch (yes, up close and personal) what I was doing and make a big deal out of it. Soon, they were both standing in line and cheering because it was their turn.
One of these days, I will have my privacy in the bathroom back. J
Hope some of these ideas help. I am so glad those days are over. Now that we aren’t buying diapers for two, I can almost afford a new car!
Another mom writes:
Got a man around the house? I hear that trying to “hit” Cheerios tossed in the toilet can be fun and make little guys more aware.
This from a dad:
Having a joint session, peeing together, also seems to be a big encourager. You can play classic games like: Who finishes first? Who starts first? Playing tunes by alternating between the side of the bowl and the splashy middle. I’d explain this all to you, but, well, it’s a man thing. When one of you explains to me why grown women always go to use the facilities in pairs or groups, I’ll explain the total thrill of making two streams of urine hit mid-air…
…or maybe I won’t…
A great idea from Nancy, an experienced mom:
Peter was ready to train but the Pull-Up gave him a crutch. I used the Night Train’r alarm during Spring break. Two days did the job. We still need to work on Peter for the nights, and he does wear Pull-Ups to bed.
And from Clover:
Well…when Noah was at that stage, this is what we did:
We’d just take him into the bathroom about every hour and a half, stand him there, pants down and say (are you ready for this?), “ONE, TWO, THREE, PEE!” Et voila! I did this with my other boys too when they were potty training. It seems to work like a charm. Then Noah started running to me, holding his pants, and saying “Come quick! PEE!” So we’d go in and he would say, “One, two three, PEE!”
Give it a shot…It’s much more fun than cleaning up puddles! J
Hello! I rarely post here but I enjoy all the information I get. I do want to weigh in on the potty training though. I have twins now just three years old. Jason is one of the twins and he has Down Syndrome. When they were six months old I heard of training infants from birth to be potty trained. They do it in Third World countries where they don’t have diapers, and I’d hazard a guess to think it used to be much more commonly done throughout the world before the advent of diapers.
Anyway, there is no trick to it. Babies have a release muscle from birth, although it takes some years to be able to develop their “hold” muscles. When they are taken on a regular basis (and you have to learn their time tables) they get uncomfortable and want to be taken and will fuss to let you know.
I tried it on my non Down Syndrome twin and within a week she was going every time I took her and she was only six months old. I didn’t think it would work on Jason, but as long as it was so fun to see that little tiny girl going potty for me I thought I’d give it a try. It was no different with him! He went just like she did. I figured if I started soon like that, he’d grow up just expecting to always use the potty and we’d have an easier time potty training. He was also constipated when he was little so it was very easy to tell when he needed to use the toilet and we capitalized on that aspect.
Now that he is three I would have expected him to be potty trained. He isn’t entirely. He hasn’t pooped in his pants in over a year at least, and now he comes all the way through the house in the middle of the night for me to take him potty and he stays dry all night. Daytime? He goes when we take him, but never tells me when he has to go like he does with pooping or going in the middle of the night. I have no idea why he doesn’t go by himself in the daytime, but there it is.
I would do this with any other children I would have, as it is remarkable and much less stress than waiting until they are two or so. I had heard horror stories of Down Syndrome children still in diapers when they were nine years old and thought this only made sense to start him thinking “toilet” at the beginning and not going in diapers. I am pleased with the results even though he still has a little ways to go during the day. And he doesn’t do a three digit span yet (and certainly not when he was six months old) so I think you can do a lot before hand. Having him take himself might take longer, with having to do his own pants and so on, but I still think this is really great training for just knowing where to go from the beginning.