Summer – 30 Minutes at a Time

Elmo has wheels

I found this skateboard/scooter thing at a garage sale, and it seems to satisfy R.’s new craving for wheels.   She calls it a bicycle.  She won’t actually ride it yet, but she is having fun.

We have been doing what I’ll call official potty training for four weeks – since summer school ended.  I put her in underwear when we are home and take her to sit on the toilet every half an hour.    It is going well from the perspective that she is compliant about sitting, and when I say time to go potty, she will usually get up and go right into the bathroom.    She has only had one success so far, and she put her fingers in her ears when she heard herself peeing.

She can go a long time between peeing.   So after it has been an hour or so, I reduce the amount of time between trips to the bathroom.   It makes the day feel kind of endless, so I’ve been trying to make the best of our five minutes.  We still look at books, but that is not as exciting now that we are in there so often.  I’m letting her put stickers on the bathroom wall while she sits, and I moved a small TV table into the bathroom.    We are using it for coloring and drawing, doing sticker books playing with legos and anything else I can find.  I’m trying to teach her to play memory type games – the ones with cards you flip over to make pairs.

At first it seemed like she was intentionally going right after sitting on the toilet.  She did not give any indication that she noticed she was wet.   But she stopped doing that, and it seems like she is becoming more aware.  In the last couple of days she has actually said something either after or while she is peeing.  The other day she was sitting at the table and she jumped up and said wow.  She had peed, and after she had new clothes on she kept going back to look at the wet spot on the chair.  This afternoon she said oh, and grabbed herself.  I asked her if she had to pee, and told her to pee in the bathroom.  She ran in, but it was too late.

When she has an accident, I take her into the bathroom and have her sit on the toilet and help her get changed.   I don’t have her sit for the full five minutes.   Everything we are doing is based on the the advice from the behaviorist.  She had ABA sessions for the past three weeks (this is the last week until school starts), and I’ve been having her go sit multiple times during the session.

I realize that this is going to take a long time.  I remind myself that every time I get frustrated waiting for R. to do something particular, just when I’ve nearly given up, she gets it.

Hooray for summer school

R. started summer school yesterday.  She is going to a different school, and she has to leave 40 minutes earlier.   The school is not that far, I could drive there in less than fifteen minutes.  So I called the bus company to ask why the trip was so long.  They said that 100 students were going to the school, so there were more kids to pick up in the morning.     I told them that I wanted to know where the bus was driving from the time my daughter gets picked up until she arrives at school.    They transferred me to the manager.   I’ve learned that when dealing with the bus company it is better to tell them
you are driving my non-verbal baby to school and I’m nervous rather than treating them like they are incompetent or screaming at them.  The manager told me that he could not tell me the route for security reasons.   So I told him  that her afternoon trip home during the regular school year takes 40 minutes, and she has to go to a neighborhood on the other side of the city.  I did not want her taking that route in the morning, during commute hours.  He finally told me that the bus only had pick-ups and drop-offs in our neighborhood.

Usually there are only kids from R.’s pre-school class on the bus.   I was worried that the elementary school kids might be rowdy or loud, but so far they all look too sleepy to get into any trouble.  It is a little premature, but I think I have met the best school bus driver on the planet.   He actually gave me a business card with his cell phone and the main bus number, and told me to call him if R. is going to be out.  He asked for my cell phone number and told me he would call me if he is running late.  I fought the urge to hug him.    Generally the bus is on time, but every few weeks we go through a patch of lateness.

I’m going to wait until next week to go to see the class.  I’d love to see it right away, but I know I would be a distraction while she is getting acclimated.   That’s one thing I hate about the start of a new semester.   She was in a really good mood when she came home yesterday, and that is a good sign.

We were funded for some respite hours and used a babysitter for the first time last weekend.  She works as an aid in a kindergarten SDC class.   It is kind of pathetic, R is four years old and this is the first time we ever left her with someone not related to us.   It went really well.  R. was in a great mood when we came home, she was hugging on the babysitter and I could see evidence of lots of playing.  I’m sure we will use her again, but one of our ABA therapists said she is available for babysitting, so I’m going to use her next.

Just a quick update

Summer vacation is here.   Friday we went to R.s classroom for an end of the year party.  The teacher made a slide show of all the pictures she took all year and showed it to all of us.  The kids liked watching it, but I think they liked the cupcakes more.

We also had our monthly ABA team meeting this week.  We decided to wait until after summer school to start all day potty training.  I’ll admit I kind of pushed for the delay after thinking about it a bit.  We have taken such a slow approach to potty training – we started in November, and she is just now up to sitting for two and half minutes.   It hasn’t even been a week at that length of time.  She was so aversive to sitting at first, and progress has been pretty easy lately.  I think it is worth waiting a few weeks and using that time to gradually work up to the five minutes like we have been doing.

R. never pointed.  In the past year she started pointing at things in books and naming them, and she also started using my finger to point.   Now she is pointing on her own.  Not all the time, but enough to be incredibly useful.  It kind of looks like she’s acting on a stage, her whole body is invested in the pointing motion and she gives me an expression that seems to say -hey I’m pointing pay attention.

Yesterday R. said to me Want chicken.  She won’t each chicken in any form, I could not think of a toy, so I just repeated it back to her with a questioning tone.  Want chicken? Then she said, Want chicken!  Bock bock! So I bocked like a chicken.  What a strange thing to ask for….

Summer of potty training

School ends next week, it seems too soon.   Summer school (ESY) starts two weeks later, it is at a different school.  We will have the same teacher, so that puts my mind at ease.   ESY starts on a Thursday, and they extended the day by fifteen minutes.  I’m guessing that must be some crazy math to limit the number of days of school.

It looks like we will be spending the summer working on actual potty training.  R. can pull her pants and the dreaded pull-up up and down.  She started doing this independently, and she’s quite proud of herself.  I have to thank the ABA supervisor for pushing this.  It has been tedious.  R. has to pull her pants and pull up down and then sit on the toilet for sixty seconds four times in a row.  They started with a full prompt and reduced the prompt in my opinion quicker than usual.  Last week she started doing it all on her own.  They tell her pull your pants down, and then she does.

I never realized just how complicated pulling your pants up can be, we could show her the pulling part, but she figured out on her own that she has to wiggle her butt a bit to get the pants over the pull-up.   I’ve been trying to let her pull her pants up and down on her own, and even when we are in a hurry she “helps”.  She’s trying out her skill on her own, I find her pulling her pajama pants up and down in bed and she is trying to remove pillowcases from pillows.

Today the behaviorist increased the amount of time she is sitting on the toilet to two and a half minutes.   She has not peed on the potty yet, she seems to go in between attempts.  It is kind of obvious that she is holding it.

They want me to start during the two weeks between the end of school and ESY.  I’m supposed to put her in underwear all the time when we are home, and have her sit on the toilet for five minutes every thirty minutes.

We still have to work out the reinforcers.  I have candy saved for when she actually goes (hopefully she will eat it and it won’t get stale first).  We have been giving her reinforcers after she sits.  I’m using some special books she likes and a light up wand.  The behaviorist says that when we go to actual potty training we should not reinforce her for sitting without peeing.   I want to start offering her the books while she sits.  Five minutes is a long time.

First week of summer vacation

Summer school ended last week and R. has five weeks off from school.  She will have ABA therapy for three weeks.  I kind of envy Moms who plan out elaborate themes and activities for each week.  While I do have some things planned, mostly we are winging it.

I feel like we are making a little progress with going to the playground and other outings.  I’ve just been bringing her in the stroller and she usually wants to get out within ten minutes or so.  She runs back to the stroller, but it seems like she is spending longer and longer outside of the stroller.  Today she spent an hour and half at the playground and I think she was in the stroller for about fifteen minutes and not in a row.

Yesterday we went to the zoo with some Moms and kids from our local Moms club.   I was quite shocked when R wanted to get out of the stroller and she ran to watch the bears with the other (typical) kids.   It seems like she is really noticing the animals now.  Which kind of gives me a clue about what is going on with her.  It seems like something has clicked in her mind and she is noticing and understanding more.  At home she is actually interested in what I’m doing – she wants to play in the sink when I’m doing dishes, join me in the bathroom.   Even when we are at the playground or when she’s at gymnastics she is actually turning to look for me.   Maybe this new awareness is giving her anxiety in some situations.

Last day of school

Artwork from school

School ended on Friday. It seems like R. just started and was in a good groove with our schedule. There’s a week off and then she has four weeks of ESY. Her regular teacher is taking the summer off and so are most of the aids. I’m a bit worried about breaking in new staff, but at least the kids will be the same.

The teacher invited the parents to an end of the year circle time. I think our presence distracted the kids quite a bit. When we arrived R.’s back was to us, so she did not notice us for quite a while. It was so funny and sweet when she did notice us, she smiled broadly and had this look of wonder, like what are you doing here?

It was quite amazing to watch her sit still in her chair for the entire circle time. She jumped up a couple of times but was easily redirected to sit down again. Circle time usually lasts for twenty minutes, but things must have been slow because of the distraction of the visitors so it actually lasted for thirty minutes. Part of me feels like standing on the roof and yelling “My daughter sat independently for half an hour!” But I’ll settle for watching the video that my husband made.

She did participate a bit, filling in “go” for every ready, set. She sang along to one of her new favorite songs We all go traveling by. She also put the vehicle icon on the board as directed by the teacher. I learned the hand and feet motions that they do for the songs.

R. loves watching the video of circle time she sings along and is so focused. I think I’ll have to have “circle time” every day over vacation.