Nope, not the talking one. Not the pointing at stuff one. Not the eye contact one. We're talking about a pretty huge one that seems to send parents of three years olds off the mother loving deep end.
POTTY TRAINING (cue the dramatic music)
On average I get at least five emails a week that start with "My kid is three and still not potty trained and seems to have no interest and they have school and what do I do?????"
And then I dash their hopes and dreams when I reply "They aren't ready.". Which, believe me you, I get no joy out of doing. I totally get it. Maybe they had other kids before this one and they were just like "YAY!, THREE! No more diapers! Hot Damn!" or maybe they are still consulting all those neurotypical sources and they are all saying "This is the age." but again, autism. It's just not going to happen that easily.
Much of the disbelief I see with these emails is their insistence "But you don't understand. They are going to school.". I sent my Kiddo to school at three too. Guess what? He wasn't potty trained. Not in the slightest and it was totally okay.
Here's why it will be for you Fries too. Your child will most likely be attending a special education program. This ain't their first rodeo. Your child will not be the only one sitting there not fully potty trained. There's a reason they ask for an extra set of clothes. They know accidents can and will happen. So while you are packing those extra pants and socks (Don't forget the socks. People often forget the socks.) you can add a pack or two of wipes and diapers/pull ups. They expect it.
And don't you dare feel bad about it. At. ALL. Listen, my mom was a preschool teacher for typical kids. She dealt with her fair share of accidents too. It just happens. No teacher goes into their field for the money and they certainly don't go into thinking it won't be messy. Have you seen children in general? They're disgusting. I mean, I love them but the little feckers are gross.
Here's what you can do. Your special needs child will start school with an IEP. Guess what you can get written into it? Yep, potty training! In order for potty training to be successful, we all know it needs to be consistent across the board. It's best that both school and home are doing the same exact agreed upon thing. So sit down with the teacher and hammer out a plan and agreed upon rewards and such. Keep each other in the know of how things are going and revamp as needed.
And I hate to say it but if your kid is anything like mine, expect this to take a long time. Yeah, I'm not going to lie. The older they get, the more complicated this topic becomes. They start growing out of diapers but then you can switch to those training Pull Ups. When they grow out of those, there are still "Overnights" for older kids that I think go up to 120 pounds give or take. If you need to, there are "adult" diapers because this is part of life my Fry friends. These things are available and thank god that they are but don't even feel bad that your kid needs them. This is just the life you have and you make the best of it.
Despite what you might think, kids don't have very much control over their own lives. They strike back with the three things that they can control. 1)Sleeping. 2)Eating. and 3) Pooping. That's what they have and sweet baby Jesus in footie pajamas, they don't let you forget it. Now let's add "Autism" to this equation. Limited diets are going to affect their bathroom habits. Communication issues are going to make things trickier. Even sleep becomes a nasty villain in all this. Trying to get your kid to both sleep through the night AND not wet the bed. What's that first tip you probably read. "Wake them up and make them go to the bathroom." Yeah, wake the finally sleeping child that took two or more hours to wind down up? Are you insane? Do you have a death wish? Unless my house is on fire, I'm not waking my Kiddo up and even then I would probably ask the fire and rescue crew to work quietly while dousing the flames on my house.
Finally, potty training isn't just a single goal to achieve. It's, pardon the pun, a crap ton. First order of business is the peeing but the pooping? Mother of mercy, it's a process. Plus we have teaching them to wipe and washing their hands to boot and this all the stuff we are just trying to get them to do at home. Try taking your kid to the bathroom to their first "away" toilet. There are a lot of enemies there. Automatic flushing toilets and hand dryers. Teaching young boys that if they use a urinal that they have to 1) Aim 2) Not pull their pants down to their ankles in public. Cause let me tell you Fries, a little boy butt, adorable. A hairy teenage butt, not so much so. Teaching girls to handle the locking and unlocking the stalls. It's a lot!
And if you are the mother to a son like me, you get the added worry of "Should I still take him in with me or send him in on his own? But if I do send him in on his own, do I have enough time to go myself and be out in time to meet him?" I've probably given myself several UTI's on the amount of holding it that I do because not all the factors are safe based on where we might be. Yeah, those family bathrooms/gender neutral restrooms are a thing we all very much need.
I can't stress this enough. We get very hung up on their milestones but really, this is our milestone we're fixating on. We want to drop the diaper bag. We want to stop washing out (or throwing out. Admit it. You have.) underwear. You want your kid to have this because yes, it does make parenting a ton easier. The first thing you have to accept though is it's not probably not going to happen at three and it's not going to be quick.
So deep breaths! Push the water and juice at them. Set the timer. Feed them some salty snacks (Fries are perfect.) so they drink more water and keep trying because that is literally all you can do. They are trying their best and so are you.
Kiddo, age 4. He may have missed a critical step here. So close.