Monday, May 21, 2012

The Potty Party

image from google

I have been getting emails from readers asking me how I potty trained Sadie. The truth is this, I didn't do it alone. I had a whole potty team! It started when we moved to get Sadie into "the good school district" with the highly sought after special needs preschool program. On the first day of school the teacher asked me to start bringing Sadie in pull-ups instead of diapers. She explained that they have a routine which included every student sitting on the potty three times a day. Sadie was 4 at the time, walking in her walker and had very little pragmatic language. She never once in her whole life made us aware of a soiled diaper, and so I was just used to changing it routinely. For Sadie to climb up onto a toilet would be a major feat and we still weren't sure if she could understand that body function. I was a little doubtful but I appreciated the initiative unlike her previous preschool program where I had to put how many times she needed to be changed in her IEP so that she wouldn't come home in a soiled diaper.

At the end of each day the students would receive a "treasure" (oriental trading trinket) if they at least sat on the potty all three times and counted to 10. At first it was hard for Sadie, she would protest but that "treasure" was a huge reinforcer. After about 3 months her teacher happily informed me that she had gone pee in the potty!!! It was perfect timing because Christmas break was around the corner and I knew I could schedule time to stay home for a week to potty train. I had a meeting with Sadie's ABA team and they suggested a 3 day potty party (not to be mistaken for a 3 day pinch party). Here is how our Potty Party went:

  • The Potty Party lasted from 6:30 am to 6:30 pm 3 days in a row.
  • Sadie had to sit on the potty pretty much that whole time
  • I had a "treasure box"filled with goodies for her to pick from ready for each time she would "go"
  • Many juice boxes and snacks were served to know
  • Between myself and the therapists we constantly had a fun activity going. (Art, shaving cream, beads, growing sponges, DVDs  ) everything under the sun to keep her entertained.
  • Sadie got a break every time she went. First a 5 min break and then we added 3 min every time.

Was it tortuous? Yes. But it worked and it was so worth it. The days following we had to put Sadie on the potty every 15 minutes. It didn't take long for her to tell us when she had to go. That was really exciting for us because we didn't know if she would be able to recognize that "feeling" as some people with CP just can't. Since then she has never had one accident save for when mommy got herself stuck in a giant maze we called Ikea. After this joyous event it was time to remodel the bathroom so that Sadie could get in there with her walker and practice those self help skills. However the memory of "The Potty Party" has made me severely exhausted and so I will have to show you our cute little handicap restroom tomorrow:)


  1. Lily is doing good at the potty thing but we could still improve. She does better at school than at home and I know it's because there's a set schedule, unless she indicates she needs to go on her own. We are less apt to do a schedule at home - before we know it, 2 hours have passed and no one has taken the Bird to the potty to try. It may be time for a potty party at my house!

  2. Your daughter has CP and feels the urge to go to the bathroom. My daughter is 6 and "just" has autism and hypotonia and clearly doesn't feel the urge. what's up with that? we're onto monometry on the anus and a rectal biopsy, etc etc--- at 6, she's NEVER pooped in the toilet. She does pee there, but only on a time schedule --- I or a teacher needs to tell her to go-- she clearly doesn't know the urge. Any phys therapy advice or anything regarding getting those muscles and nerve endings to recognize the urge?


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