Language Translation

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Bathroom Foes

I've had many questions about potty training.  There are so many children who have a hard time using the restroom for a myriad of reasons.  I could not address every reason, that would take a very long time.  But the reason I have found most common is, once again, about energy flow.

When you are sitting on the toilet, there is so much energy flowing, that it makes it very hard to use the restroom - urination and bowel movements for girls, and bowel movements for boys (unless he is taught to sit and urinate, then it is the same for him).  I can remember feeling the energy so strong that I thought something was going to reach up out of the toilet and grab me every time I used the restroom.

There are a couple of things that I think might work.  Both trial and error.  One is free, one will cost money - I have no idea how much.

When I was a child and the energy flow was too much for me, I began playing games with myself.  Those games had rules.  I couldn't just say whatever I was afraid of wasn't there, because the energy didn't leave.  It was there, I could feel it, and it made me think there was a living thing in the toilet.  It was very confusing and frightening to me as a child.

Sorry for the tangent.  The game.  So, because I couldn't just say it was gone, I gave it parameters that it had to go by.  This may sound disgusting, but it is what worked for me to be able to be comfortable using the restroom.  I decided that as long as I was "feeding" the toilet, that the thing was not allowed to come up and get me. And it didn't know if I was done filling up the bowl until I flushed the toilet.  So, the rule was that if I could get out of the bathroom before the water was done running down the toilet, then it couldn't get me.

I would do my business, wash my hands, get the door open and turn off the light, then go over to the toilet, flush and run, slamming the door behind me.  It worked.  It got me to be able to use the bathroom.  I think though, had the bathroom been a room of less energy, arranged more suitably to my energy flow, I probably would not have had such a problem.

Now, this game would obviously not work for a child with limited mobility.  But you can create your own game with your own parameters.  Whatever works.  We on the spectrum live by rules.  We expect everything to live by the rules.  It really doesn't matter who makes the rule, once it's made it is expected to be adhered to.  This is why I had the ability to decide the rules...this would not work on a child who does not need the order and schedule.  If order and scheduling don't seem to ease your child's anxiety level, then this may not be the answer you are looking for.  Sorry.

As your child becomes more and more aware and alert, if he is not already, you can explain energy to him and why he is feeling what he feels.  There was no one who could do that for me so I was left to resort to games to help myself feel safe from the energy constantly coming at me.  As you explain to him and help him understand what is going on, it will make things much easier.  If I had known what it was, I would not have been afraid, and I believe I would have understood had someone known and taken the time to explain it to me.

The second thing you could do, I'm not certain if it will help or not, is found in a book written by Deepak Chopra entitled "Perfect Health."  In this book he describes a platform that you use in the bathroom.  It seems to me that this would be a good compromise to help your son still have a feeling of being grounded, but also get him using the toilet.  I really don't know much more about it other than what is in that book - but I haven't read the book in nearly 13 years.  This is not an endorsement of any product.  It is something that occurred to me and I have no idea whether or not it will be useful or beneficial for your child.

I imagine it would be helpful, just because it is the natural position for bowel movements and it keeps your child's legs by him, which offers a more grounded feeling.  The open toilet below is like a huge energy bowl and having his body all together, in the squat position would give him a balance against that energy a little more.

While we are on the subject of the bathroom, let's talk about showers vs. baths.  A bath is much easier on my skin, but what happens when I am so big that the bath becomes awkward?  There are several options that could help.

Water is great for therapy and comfort, but when the shower is pelting my skin, sometimes it is painful. I am not as highly sensitive as some children I've worked with.  Some of them would rather have any form of consequence than have a shower.  One mother didn't like any of the suggestions I had, so they invested in renovating their home and had a large garden tub put in that her nearly 6 foot son could fit in.  You don't need to go to those extremes if your child has the mobility to wash himself, or if you can afford a couple of minor additions to your bathroom.

If your shower does not have a handicap bar installed in it, that would be essential especially if he has limited mobility, and/or if you are doing some or all of the washing yourself.  The second thing I would do is buy a removable shower head.  You can set it to the softest setting and put it right against his skin.  Turn the water on low, instead of full force.  Then it becomes more like water therapy and soothing.  He'll be able to handle the water and you will be able to get him clean.

Those two things are what I would do first.  The cost of both is not too much, and if you are capable of installing them yourself, you will pay far less doing this than the cost of the fights and tantrums and meltdowns because of the anxiety caused by a shower.  Also, if your child is able to one day live on his own, these are solutions he can very easily instal in a dorm room, an apartment, etc.

As long as the water is a little cooler than your normal temperature (must be adjusted because it is going directly onto the skin instead of cooling a moment between the shower head and the skin) and the pressure of the water is low, the removable shower head should be something that he will not only tolerate, but enjoy.  You may end up complaining about the time he is spending in the shower and all the hot water disappearing.  I hope you have such problems.  : )  It is one more step to his being able to care for himself and feel a little more independent.

Water is very soothing for one major reason that I know.  With so much energy constantly being hurled at me from every direction, it sometimes gets a little confusing to know where my body is.  Water is something I can feel all over my body.  It is something I can see.  I often feel like I am being touched and there is nothing there, it is just energy.  But the water I can see and it helps me have a sense of my body - it's like a spacial recognition augmenter.  I find it is also soothing because I can control where it touches me.  I can be submerged, I can just have one foot in, etc.  Energy hits me wherever and I have no control over it.

With the little girl I am currently caring for, I have found that a bath directly after she gets off the bus is very soothing for her.  She has far less meltdowns, is more cooperative and much more able to learn.  If she doesn't get her bath, she tends to really struggle with releasing the energy from school.

Today,  I was not there until about 2.5 hours after she was home from school.  The babysitter did not give her a bath.  She had a very, very hard day.  She was uncooperative, did not want to do the things she would normally do without having to be asked a second time, and was doing a lot more hitting and kicking. 

Water, very often not only cleanses the dirt, but allows her to "wash off" the energy of the day and be in the here and now a little easier.  It is a very beneficial part of her learning and growing.  Since we began doing the bath as soon as she gets home she had less seizures, less tantrums, less meltdowns, and much better mobility.  In fact, it has been almost 4 days since I have seen a seizure at all.

This is due mostly to the bath being added, as well as some essential oils and less focus on the physical therapy she was doing, but instead incorporating the therapy into our play.

*This is a blog about my own life and my own experience.  If you choose to follow anything written here, you do so without any claim on me for problems or complications that may arise.  I am not a doctor.  I have no degree.  I am not a professional.  This is my perspective and experience, that's all.  If you don't think you should do something on here, then don't.*


  1. Tara, I've not read too many of your posts, but I did refer a friend (Do you remember the Bickerstaffs in college?) On of their wives has a son with Autism who was just diagnosed. Anyways, I read the bathroom post and thought it was really well done, and I can see it being very helpful to parents facing these issues. Good job!--Amanda B.

  2. Thanks Amanda. I do remember them, and I hope ther will find some help or at least encouragement here. Good to hear from you. Say hi to your hubby and in-laws for me. T