Thursday, January 19, 2012


Nothing in this house quickens the pace of my steps quite like the "clank" of a toilet lid dropping shut.

I don't really know why. I've seen enough doo-doo over the years to stucco my house--and then some. I doubt that any area of our home has been spared from a toileting accident. So, why the racing heart at the sound of our older son dropping that toilet lid?

I mean, it isn't as though ANYTHING in our main bathroom can get ruined. I've stripped it down to just its white tile. And, while I embraced natural cleaners and environmentally friendly ways for our family to live, eat and be healthy, this mama has gone back to old fashioned bleach in that bathroom. I keep cleaner in there (out of reach, of course). I keep bags for soiled clothes and garbage. Lots of wipes and toilet paper are handy. I have current supplies of soap, underwear and towels. And, for a quick reference, there is a step-by-step chart on handwashing.

Frankly, it's a masterpiece.

That bathroom stands strong, stalwart and true. For, it is the bathroom born of toileting accidents, powering through countless hours of dedicated toilet training and years of failure.

If only those walls could talk. We've had stand alone training potties in there. Seats that clip onto the regular potty. Steps for the potty to add stability. Singing potties. Reinforcement charts/token boards. Books on going to the potty. Fidget toys. Heck. I even had a training urinal.

Many children with special needs find toileting to be a challenge. Children with autism usually lack the sensory awareness to feel when they need to take themselves to the bathroom, delaying the average training age by a year, two years or even more. Our older son was six years old when he became toilet trained during the day. At ten years old, today he is not yet trained at night.

Any time we have a school break, he regresses with his toileting skills. It's usually during those breaks that I'm caught off guard, he'll stop dead in his tracks and...well, you know. Right there. On the floor. In the kitchen. The hallway. The porch, yard, sandbox, stairwell. Anywhere it catches HIM off guard is where it catches me off guard.

He'll then look at me. "Poopy!" He'll usually say.

Sigh. Yes. I see that.

I could talk for hours about this child's bowels. I could talk forever about what supplements do what and the frustration involved in finding just the right dose to keep those pipes flowing regularly. In the early days, when I was trying to get a handle on all of his food intolerances, I even had to study his BMs. Ew. I have dealt with BMs more in my adult life than I ever thought I would. And yet, "CLANK!" goes that toilet lid, and I go running toward the bathroom.

"Buddy? Do you need some help?" I ask along the way. I walked into the bathroom yesterday to find our older son, naked from the waist down, with half of the toilet roll waded in his arms, and a mess splattered about the toilet.

"Help," he said. "Undies!"

I looked to the corner of the room and spotted his soiled pants and underwear. Not uncommon. I've just started keeping a pile of clean unerclothes in the bathroom.

"Nice job taking yourself to the bathroom!" I encouraged him. Yes, he missed most of the toilet. Yes, his clothes are a mess. However, he knew where to take himself, he got there just about in time, and he knew he needed to wipe.

I was proud.

As I cleaned him, I couldn't help but think of how far we had come. Many frustrating years ago, I would open the door to his room and find my baby in his crib with feces on his face, his white bed and sheet smeared with BMs.

Some babies do this. Many special needs babies do this. They like the feel of it. My child never liked the feel of it. He wanted it off of his skin but lacked the social connection and the communication skills to call out to me. And, so I would walk into his room shocked to find his beautiful skin covered in waste because he had attempted to remove it from his pants himself.

From an early age, I cleaned BMs from my baby's nostrils, his ears, his fingernails, the spindles of his crib, crib toys and even the wall behind his crib. White. I became obsessed with the color white. That way germs could not hide. As he grew, the accidents changed from smearing to missing the toilet, which is where we remain today.

I should say that my life has been one big bowel movement boot camp. I've been desensitized. For this, I know, I have earned my spot in Heaven.

I just really hope my job is not to potty train any more little angels.


  1. Your job is just endless. I know that we moms always say that and it is true, even for those of us who've walked a fairly easy parenting road, but in your case, it is really, really true.

    1. That's the nature of special needs parenting. I know some parents who don't have the mental break--their kids require constant behavioral management and then there is management of education/medication/the future. Most people don't consider that some kids can be mentally taxing. For my household, lol, I think we have both physical and mental--maybe more physical. Whopee!

      Thanks for reading, Beth. You are a great support to so many of us!

  2. You simply amaze me, Amy. Yes, I am sure you have a spot waiting for you in heaven. I have a friend whose daughter at the age of 7 suddenly suffered a blood clot in her brain and is now mentally and very physically disabled. She just had her 17th birthday. You remind me of this special Mom named Debbie. When she describes her daily activities, I am just in awe of not only her physical demands but it is her spirit, like yours, that has me in awe. Take care and I'm always hoping you find some time for yourself each day! ;)

  3. Thank you for sharing that. Please send my regards to Debbie. I'm sure I can learn a lot from her.

  4. It's Amy the mom with stories no one would believe, except they are all true. Still don't know how you carry on day after day, but I know even on those days when you run away to the Mom Cave, your boys are all they can be today because they were born to you. You're simply amazing and I adore how you do your job. ♥ Always with love. Even when the patience is gone, the love never is.

  5. Your special kids have a special Mom. :)