Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Anxiety and Depression

Based off of the notes I took while attending the workshop "Anxiety and Depression Too? What Do We Do?" in Utah:

First, think back to when you had a newborn. The sleepless nights and how tired you were, the constant crying, all the nasty diapers, you had no idea what the baby needed, if baby was hurt and couldn't tell you, and if you would ever figure out this whole parenting thing.

Now, can you imagine having that newborn's needs, times 15 years, and add in puberty, more complex needs, the child being stronger and able to seriously physically harm you, and STILL having those same newborn needs? (Can you imagine giving 15 YEARS of that level of care?)

Would YOU be overwhelmed? Welcome to special needs parenting stress levels!

Now, let's start with a couple statistics:
  • 35-65% of children with special needs have anxiety and/ or depression
  • 40-70% of parents of children with ID (intellectual disability) have anxiety and/ or depression
  • 25% of caregivers meet the diagnostic criteria for major depression

Why is it so common for families containing a special needs child to have such high levels of anxiety and depression?

  • Parenting a child with ID is DIFFICULT! Exhausting!
  • You will feel like you have to fight everyone- insurance, government agencies, schools, and managing to still be "therapy mom"!
  • There could be a genetic component
  • For the child, they are used to failure, so they expect failure. Not very encouraging
  • The high level of needs in addition to typical daily tasks is overwhelming
  • Marriages are VERY strained in special needs parenting! The divorce rate skyrockets for this group

"Having a child that has a disability, it's all-encompassing. You could see how people would lose themselves" -Dr. Fred R. Volkmar,  director of Child Study Center at Yale

Symptoms of Depression
Meet 5 or more of the following:
  • Depressed mood most of the day, every day (feels sad, hopeless, empty)
  • Diminished interest or pleasure in activities
  • Significant weight loss or gain
  • Insomnia or hypersomnia
  • Psychomotor agitation or retardation (doing things really fast or slow)
  • Fatigue or loss of energy
  • Feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt
  • Diminished ability to think or concentrate or indecisiveness
  • Recurrent thoughts of death

"Parenting a child with ID increases the risk of provoking feelings of loss (i.e. of the perfect or dreamed of child and of one's personal freedom), helplessness (i.e. experiencing high stress, not being able to change the situation and not being able to get the help one needs) and failure (having a child with difficult behavior and not being able to pursue one's personal goals in life)" -Depression in Mother and Fathers of Children with an intellectual disability

Hopelessness Scenario:
Sabrina is worried about her son, David, who has ID and Autism. The school has offered an IEP, but not one that she feels will meet his educational needs. The school told her to "take it or leave it". She wants David to have a better education, but the school tells her that they are professionals and know what is best.

She also was on the phone during her lunch break with her insurance company, who said that they only offer coverage for "rehabilitative therapy". If he never had skills to start with, then they won't cover anything.

She also called to get David on Medicaid, but the waiting list is 14 years long. "By the time he gets any services, he will already by 20!" Sabrina sighs. David's doctors have recommended an immediate treatment program of 3x/ week of speech therapy, and 2x/ week of occupational therapy, and 1x/ week of physical therapy, plus 20 hours weekly of ABA.

Speech therapy is $90/ hour, occupational therapy is $120/ hour, physical therapy is $75/ hour, and to add ABA... How could she ever manage to pay for anything? She was barely making ends meet as it was, working as a secretary at a legal firm.

David is getting stronger by the day, and his meltdowns are harder and harder to handle, and it feels like they are becoming more frequent as well. He has never even said "I love you".

Sabrina buried her face in her hands, tears leaking through her eyelids. David's father had left a year before; this wasn't the family he had imagined, and it certainly wasn't how Sabrina thought life would go either.

Loss of Motivation
Unfortunately, there are WAY too many Sabrinas and Davids. Is it any wonder that parents have a loss of motivation? What parent can make time for personal leisure pursuits while they feel like they are drowning in demands?

Parents lose touch with themselves and focus all their attention on their child's needs. Then when they do try and take time for themselves, they feel guilty for doing so and not focusing on their children's needs 100% of the time.

Poor Appetite or Increased Appetite
Stress affects people differently. Some are unable to eat, while others turn to food for comfort.

A parent of a child with special needs and/ or behaviors may have increased anxiety, worry, or preoccupation that may affect his/ her appetite, and self-soothe by using food or other substances.

Insomnia or Hypersomnia
Kids with special needs often have sleep problems (frequent waking), while directly affects the parents as well- the child will come and wake the adult.

Almost 100% of people who are chronically sleep-deprived will head towards depression.

Parents of children with special needs may begin to sleep more during times when their children are not present as a means to escape their feelings and stress

Fatigue or Low Energy
The day to day obstacles and/ or routines of parents with special needs children can be exhausting and the constant anxiety can begin to wear on parents emotionally and physically

Low Self-Esteem
Parents of children with special needs often feel inadequate as parents, frustrated because they are unable to handle their children's behaviors or meet their needs on their own.

Parents sometimes feel responsible for their children's diagnosis

Parents sometimes feel shame over their feelings and needs around their children's disabilities

Poor Concentration or Difficulty in Making Decisions
Constant stress and overload may begin to cause distractibility, mild memory issues, and poor concentration (I call this my "Mommy brain")

Information overload or insignificant information may cause a parents to become uncertain and lead to inability to make sound choices

Social Isolation
Parents of children with special needs sometimes feel isolated from other parents, supports, family, and/ or the community

At times, parents may feel some embarrassment surrounding their children's behavior or their inability to handle those behaviors in public, so they keep themselves and their children secluded from the public

Isolation Scenario
One of Chelsea's school teachers told me about one of the students they had taught previously. This child (6 years old) had only ever been at his home and school. No trips to the park, never been to the grocery store, or to mail a letter at the post office, nothing. Home and school were all he knew.

The parents did all their shopping online, because it was easier than taking this child out in public. Anytime they needed to leave, the boy got a babysitter.

How many times have you heard, "It's not like they will go to kindergarten in diapers and not talking!"? Some kids do. But usually they are "shielded" from the public, in separate schools or a back classroom.

I LOVE how Chelsea's current school does lots of inclusiveness. Chelsea's mainstream classmates are always eager to volunteer to be her "buddy" at recess, or lunch, or to show her what to do in PE. If you have typically-developing children, thank you for teaching them to be kind and patient with children who have special needs! It is greatly, greatly appreciated!

Grief Cycle
The grief cycle isn't just for when someone you love dies. Any time there is a change in life's circumstances and/ or individual's expectation of their life, there is a grieving process on some scale

Parents may feel anger, denial, hurt, etc. of grief, but may not acknowledge those feelings and, therefore, never more through those feelings in a healthy way

Inability to process and deal with the different stages of grief may lead to discontent, lack of acceptance, frustration, and unrealistic, or even no, expectations

Stages of the Grief Cycle
  1. Shock and Denial- avoidance, confusion, fear, numbness, blame
  2. Anger- frustration, anxiety, irritation, embarrassment, shame
  3. Depression and Detachment- Feeling overwhelmed, feeling "blah", lack of energy, helplessness
  4. Dialogue and Bargaining
  5. Acceptance- Explore options, have a new plan in place, feeling empowered, security, self-esteem, having meaning
"It's important to expect a roller coaster ride. Remember as you ride, you are going to come to loops and twists; enjoy the good times, but don't be surprised by the bad. Where you are isn't where you are going to stay"

Financial Strain
There is no way around it- it can be quite expensive to raise a child with special needs. Between the cost of treatments, services, therapies, and medical expenses, many families accrue a great deal of debt.

Many families won't qualify for assistance with the cost of care due to their income, which is sometimes only barely above federal income guidelines.

Financial stress is already one of the main causes of marital discourse and can lead to feelings of hopelessness

Lack of Support
Some parents have a sufficient support system while others do not. Some parents are raising their children solely on their own. Some do not have family or community support.

Lack of support can further the feelings of isolation and allow the parent to continue in his/ her negative or unproductive thinking and behaviors.

Lack of Resources/ Help
Parents aren't always aware of the services that their children are entitled to and, therefore, struggle to meet their children's needs.

Parents don't always qualify for assistance with some resources due to income requirements, but those parents aren't always able to obtain those services on their own.

Inability to access resources or lack of knowledge that there is help available can lead to increased worry, frustration, hopelessness, stress, and sometimes desperation and impulsivity.

Symptoms of Generalized Anxiety (3 or more)
  • Restlessness or feeling on edge
  • Being easily fatigued
  • Difficulty concentrating or mind going blank
  • Irritability
  • Muscle Tension
  • Sleep disturbances

Anxiety Profile
  • Physical Reactions
    • Sweaty palms
    • Muscle tension
    • Racing heart
    • Flushed cheeks
    • Light-headedness
  • Behaviors
    • Avoiding situations where anxiety may occur
    • Leaving situations when anxiety begins to occur
    • Trying to do things perfectly or trying to control events to prevent danger
  • Thoughts
    • Overestimation of danger
    • Underestimation of your ability to cope
    • Underestimation of help available
    • Worries and catastrophic thoughts
  • Moods
    • Nervous
    • Irritable
    • Anxious
    • Panicky

What do we do?
  • Basic responsibilities for self
  • Take care of the caregiver
  • Action versus Inaction
  • Live in the present/ mindfulness

Care for the Caregiver
How many dozens of times have you been told that you (as a parent of a child with special needs) need to take care of yourself?

Mary Thoughts
I remember thinking, "Cool, so when am I supposed to fit in this self-care? Am I supposed to do squats during therapy? Read a book instead of doing home therapy practice? Maybe watch a movie while the rest of my family needs attention?"

BUT- the times when I did do things for myself- do a community play, or read a book that I wanted to (not about seizure/ genetic disorders/ learning disorders), I felt so much better and happier!

My husband sent me on a week trip to Hawaii with my sisters 2 years ago, and at the time, I thought, "I don't deserve a trip anywhere, I am barely hanging on as it is!" but I cannot even describe how happy I was all that time!

Treatment for Depression

  • Cognitive Restructuring
    • Thinking "I will figure this out" rather than "I can't handle this"
    • Catch your negative thoughts and change them
  • Medication
  • Improving your interpersonal relationships and support system
  • Activity scheduling
    • Find and plan something to look forward to!
    • Work on your marriage- dates, getaways

Treatment for Anxiety
  • Cognitive restructuring
  • Relaxation training
  • Progressive muscle relaxation (look up on youtube)
  • Controlled breathing
  • Imagery
  • Overcome avoidance (predict it!)
  • Mindfulness
  • Medication

Other Ideas
  • Find someone to talk to about your feelings
  • Attend a support group
  • Talk with your health care provider
  • Ask for help (family, friends, neighbors)
  • Sleep!
  • Develop a GREAT sense of humor!
  • Exercise
  • Good nutrition
  • Get a massage (try 15 minutes from your partner! It reduces depression)
  • Pray, meditate, read

When Should You Seek Professional Help?
  • Ongoing and/ or chronic depression
  • Ongoing anxiety
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Dramatic Mood Swings

Monday, May 8, 2017

Structure and Routine

Kids, and particularly special needs kids, NEED structure and routine! I went to an excellent workshop about this exact subject, presented by Chelsea's phenomenal kindergarten teacher here in Texas. Some notes from that workshop:

Why Are Structure and Routine Important?
  • Visual assistance allows kids to make mental preparations of your expectations at home
  • Physical structure at home helps them to become more independent with their responsibilities
  • Structure MUST be consistently used each day
  • Routines develop as structure is set into place

Teach Expectations
  • Expectations provide boundaries, which help kids become independent
  • Expectations teach the students to create a safe self atmosphere
  • Expectations teach them to be proud of their accomplishments
  • Expectations teach them to respect their parents/ family members/ teachers
  • Expectations teach them to manage their own behaviors

When Expectations are NOT Taught
  • Child will do what they want without regard to what parents have asked
  • Child does not learn to participate with home activities as they occur with the family
  • Child becomes disrespectful to parents
  • Child doesn't learn what it means to be proud of their accomplishments
  • Child does not learn how to follow through with activities that they should be doing independently
  • Child doesn't learn to manage their own behaviors

Physical Structure
  • Everything has a place and student is able to see it
  • Organization provides an environment that is understandable and calming to the student
  • Less chaos in the environment
  • There are no questions as to what is expected
Goals for my someday study center!!!

Visual Directives
This was something I thought was really cool! The idea is, instead of the child waiting for you to give them a verbal cue, you give them a visual one, preferably with the child demonstrating the correct behavior in a picture. This could be used for:
  • Table manners
  • Church behavior
  • Play time behavior
  • Manners out in public

Benefits of Visual Schedules
  • Predictability
  • Ease of transitions
  • Easier to make changes in routines
  • Independence
  • Carry over skills from school to home
  • Expectations in one environment carry to another

I was SO proud of myself for making this!

How to Make a Visual Schedule
1. Cut out the pictures you want
2. Laminate them
3. Put rough Velcro on the back of the pictures
4. Put soft Velcro on a stick (or the wall, or wherever it will go)
5. Sequence the pictures in the order of events that will occur
6. Keep extra pictures in a baggie easily accessible to you

Idea Corner
  • Make a poster with pictures and house rules like "Keep hands to yourself" or "Quiet voice" (I use the same language as the school for optimal carry-over)
  • Make "First/ Then" cards. Use pictures for activities, and the use it! FIRST speech, THEN art. FIRST reading, THEN snack.
  • Use timers
  • Make a chore chart
  • Keep items organized and neat, so child will know what to expect and where to find things (and consequently, where to put them away!)
  • Use visual routines to help with things like
    • Morning Routine
    • Bedtime Routine
    • How to Take a Bath
    • How to Go Potty
    • How to Wash Hands

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Start Signing!

One of the questions I get asked most often with Chelsea is: "Is she deaf?" followed closely by "Did you know ASL before you had her?"

The answers: No, she isn't deaf, and no, I didn't know any ASL before I had her. I think I knew the signs for "more" and "milk".

But learning ASL was seriously one of the best things I have ever done, and so good for any kid- deaf, hearing, special needs... EVERYONE SHOULD SIGN!!!!
Chelsea being super lucky and meeting Rachel Coleman!

My favorite way of learning early sign is with the SIgning TIme videos. The Signing Time company has a FAQ about ASL. They have videos about zoo and farm animals, household chores, potty training, my favorite things (verbs and fruits), family...

How Should I Start Learning ASL? Local libraries or your local early intervention library should have a bunch of Signing Time videos. Watch them! Watch them with your kid and do hand over hand, or pop them in and watch while you cook dinner.

If you think they are too juvenile, then too bad. Watch it anyway. They work! I cannot even say how many adults I have told how to sign a word they ask about, and they forget it a week later.

Chelsea signing "owl", her second favorite animal!

With Signing Time, they show the word, show the sign, explain why the sign is that way, and then have multiple people sign it, say it, show pictures of the word you are learning, then sing songs with those words. Repetition works for EVERYBODY!!!

I liked watching the videos with Chelsea, and showing her "how" to watch them- saying the word aloud, then practicing the signs every time the word was said. I demonstrated the signs, then did hand over hand.

For a Typical Child:
For a "normal" kid with average intelligence, they should pick up signs really fast if you are consistent. I would pick 2-3 highly motivating signs, like "milk" or a favorite toy, and really focus on doing hand over hand and teaching those. Once they get that signing will get them cool stuff, they will learn it just as fast as you can teach it!

Chelsea has a "typical" brother 2 years younger than her, and after just watching signs I used with Chelsea, he started signing back at 8-9 months old and had an explosive vocabulary (signed and verbal!) by 1 year old.

The myth "If you teach a kid to sign, then they won't talk" is a big bag of NOPE. Little mister was talking in full sentences at a 14 months old. If anything, signing encouraged him to talk more and got him accustomed to language.


For Special Needs Kids:
It took Chelsea months and months of me doing hand-over-hand, consistent repetitions for her to understand the signing. I always tell parents that the first 10-20 signs are the HARDEST to teach these kids. After that, they have figured out that their wants are being met, and they feel successful in their communication attempts.

Now, this is HARD. It takes a LOT of work to teach the signs and immeasurable dedication to not give up when your child hasn't caught on after the 8,491st repetition.

BUT, it works!!! Chelsea knows more than 700 signs, and will approximate many signs with her verbal approximations, which increases my chance of understanding her wants. In the above video, she said, "Mommy please push me high"

  • Your child will be able to communicate with you!
  • The hungry/ hurt/ thirsty/ tired/ bored questions will be answered!
  • You and your child will be able to talk to deaf people, who are the most HILARIOUS story tellers in the world, by the way
  • You can scold your child in public and everyone who doesn't know sign thinks it is adorable that you sign, so no stink eye
  • Your child will feel successful and accomplished!
  • It is the perfect language for visual and/ or tactile learners
  • We use ASL as verbal prompts, one of the reasons Chelsea has some speech!

Monday, April 24, 2017

Why I Advocate

Last week, I was surprised to find a message in my facebook inbox from one of Chelsea's former teachers, saying that they were offended when I wrote in a facebook post that I was dissatisfied with the level of potty training help I had received from that school.

I like this teacher as a person, so am not going to post much of what they said, because I can only imagine the nasty messages they would get, and I have no desire for that to happen. Just a few things they said I wanted to discuss:

  • "It is not an educational necessity to be potty trained"

  • "In my opinion what your asking for could easily be accomplished by homeschooling Chelsea, putting [son] in daycare and make it your full-time job. Then she will meet her potential"

  • "Free and appropriate education has a very different definition to what you are expecting"

  • Next quote not from the same person, and this comment was 3 years ago, but from the DIRECTOR of special education in that district, "If Chelsea needs that many services to make progress, it isn't worth the investment. You need to find a group home for her." (Chelsea was 3)

I really had no interest in arguing when I got the message, and so I simply stated that my child's potential mattered more to me than a teacher's feelings, and that we had a difference of opinion, and left it at that.

But I do want to discuss these topics briefly, because I have gotten similar questions before, usually innocently, (and I NEVER get offended by sincere questions!).

1. "Educational Necessity"- There are so, so, SO many things that are not "educationally" or "academically" necessary that still need included for Chelsea at school. Yes, my child needs to have consistency in going potty. And she need to be able to say "hi" to people. And know how to make a peanut butter jelly sandwich. And know how to purchase an item at the store.

That is part of CHELSEA'S education, and something that will help her lead a successful, happy life. Why is that any less important than knowing academic trivia like cumulus versus stratus cloud formations?

I think life skills are far more important! (and face it, there are plenty of non-special needs students that could take a crash course in life skills too!)

That is the whole basis of an INDIVIDUAL education plan. Each child has unique needs, and goals tailored to them. I have had school personnel tell me that other kids don't have goals like Chelsea's, to which I say "Well, that is good, because they aren't Chelsea"

2. Why Don't You Homeschool? I do in the summers, but Chelsea likes school, and the staff are (almost always) very competent and caring.

I would certainly hope that a special education teacher, OT, SLP, and PT all with master's degrees and 3 decades of experience between them, plus several classroom and therapy aides AND all the resources a school can offer would do a better job than I could!

However, there have been times that I did seriously consider homeschool because I was astonished that a team with all the above qualifications was doing so little to help my daughter progress in her goals.

But right now, I LOVE her team and they are getting her to learn all sorts of new things I wouldn't have thought to teach her! There are really incredible people that work in special education! It isn't a field you just get into for the money.

Additionally, I have no desire to send my son to a mediocre daycare to get constantly sick and sit in front of a brain-cell-sapping television all day, and neglect HIS educational needs (which would need a blog of their own).

3. FAPE- Or Free Appropriate Public Education. Unfortunately in special education, this often means "barely more than minimal progress", rather than a "meaningful education". There is actually a case right now in front of the supreme court about what constitutes an "appropriate education".

I am not looking for babysitting for my kid. I am not just looking for any excuse to have a break from her constant needs. I want her to have an education. A real education! And you bet I will advocate until she gets one, and you bet I will take her side against ANYBODY who says otherwise.

Now, I am not saying treat the school like an enemy. Like I said, I LOVE my daughter's team right now! They are amazing and talented and I know that they love Chelsea!

But I know Chelsea. I know all about her (many) disabilities, and I know how she learns best. So I will bring that to the table, and just as I listen to them, I expect my expertise to be considered by others as well, because I actually know a lot about my kid and how she learns.

4. But Chelsea Needs a Lot...- You think I don't know that? I am well aware that Chelsea needs double or triple the time of other special needs kids. Her disability is far more severe! Of course she needs more help to make progress, and 20 minutes/ week of group speech won't cut it for her!

Chelsea can learn! I know that she can, because she has been able to learn all her colors, shapes, numbers, letters, even words! BUT that comes after a LOT of intense, 1:1 dedicated time and effort.

Yes, I know the school district doesn't like to pay for extra services. Insurance hates to pay for anything. I sure don't like to have about half of all our income going to her therapy, medical, and prescription needs, and my husband and I working 2-3 extra jobs at a time to cover those expenses because insurance, the government, and the school all refuse.

I never really debated whether a child was "worth the investment". If your child breaks their arm, you take them to the doctor and pay to get it fixed. If a child is struggling in math, you send them to a tutor. If your child need speech therapy, you make it work as best you can. It is just what parents are supposed to do.

In Closing:
Every child should have an education that helps them achieve their goals.

I advocate for Chelsea to have a brighter future, because every child deserves a chance.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

SATB2 Potty Training

Method- Rapid Toilet Training (RTT)

1.    Start with 30 minute intervals (30 minutes on, 5 minutes off potty)

a.    Use FUN and ENGAGING activities

b.    If she goes on the potty, she immediately gets a 5 minute break

2.    After a few successes, move to 25 minutes on the potty, 10 minutes off

3.    20 minutes on, 15 minutes off

4.    Put a chair 2 feet from the potty, and repeat the same schedule as above, and unless Chelsea doesn’t go to the potty when she needs to pee, move the chair 2 feet further away with each session, until 20 feet away, and then remove

5.    Change reinforcers and start fading prizes- 3 times/ day for a prize, 5-10 times for a prize, etc.

6.    Use other potties

To-Do Prior to Starting

       Make a chart to track progress (this is for your sanity, not a reward chart for your child)- time, activity, notes, potty

       Write up a social story with pictures of Chelsea

       Gather potty books to read

       Check out or purchase potty videos (Elmo, Potty Time, etc)

       Put together a box of 50-100 activities (some can be multiples of the same (puzzles, different princess magnetic dress-ups, stickers and paper, coloring books) 

       Plan/ prep all the activities

       Prize bucket (little prizes for pee, big prizes for poop- underwear, treats, dress-up from yard sales, necklaces, dollar store stuff. Totally worth it to me to drop $60 to potty train my kid!)

       Make a clean-up bucket (paper towels, cleaner, extra outfits for you and kid, towels)

       Get salty snacks and drinks!
       Pre-make meals and snacks

       Ship off other kids if possible so you can focus totally on potty training

Several of Chelsea's prizes were yard
sale outfits. She is a little fashionista!


v  Give as much of whatever Chelsea likes to drink, plus salty snacks to help her stay thirsty (aim for 4-6 ounces an hour, but don’t force it)

v  When Chelsea goes in the potty, give LOTS of praise and prizes

v  If Chelsea goes potty anywhere else, clean her up quickly and silently, keep a neutral reaction

v  If she starts going, put her on the potty quick before she finishes! If she finishes on the potty (even a drop counts!) it counts as a success, and show her excitedly how she CAN go potty

v  Naked waist down to watch that rear end for any deposits!

v  Pour warm water over bum while she is sitting. It helps with the sensation of peeing

v  AVOID screen time as much as possible!!! A few reasons why: 1) High amounts of TV coorelate to more complex partial seizure activity in brain, which also leads to weakened bladder/ bowel control and 2) When Chelsea is focused on the TV or iPad, she doesn’t focus on her body signals, and won’t even realize she is going. But after we had some successes, I would give her short videos (7ish minute episodes) for when she requested potty, or tried to get on. She is HIGHLY motivated by iPad, so this was a great reward for her!

Chelsea teaching Minnie Mouse how to go potty and reading

Activities (rotate every 15 minutes, even if changing the puzzle or magnetic princess set)

1.    Build a straw, blow bubbles in drink

2.    Read potty books

3.    Paint nails (and blow to dry them!)

4.    Fancy hairdos

5.    Magnetic princesses

6.    Other books

7.    Blow up balloons

8.    Melissa and Doug re-useable sticker scenes

9.    Sing princess songs

10. Hanger clothespin ABC game

11. Blow on party blower thing

12. Scratch off drawings

13. SHORT Minnie Mouse episode

14. Dress-up barbies

15. Thread beads to make bracelets
Sensory bin puzzle time!

16. Craft stick name match

17. Silly String Sensory Play

18. Coloring books- color then cut up

19. Work on flash cards

20. Read target sight words

21. Expandable tube- telephone, crown, make letters, marble run, balloon catcher, basketball hoop

22. Princess Memory

23. Dance party to celebrate success

24. Lights off, shine flashlight on sight words

25. Puzzles

26. Play guess what I am thinking

27. Talk about pictures- what are they doing, who is this, which one is doing ____

28. Sensory bin puzzles (hide pieces in bin)

29. Bubbles

30. Bath (while Mommy cleans the bathroom)

31. Painting in a bag
Paint in a bag, just toss when done!

32. Stickers on paper

33. Play Bingo

34. Play Candyland or other board games

35. Catch and throw balloons (easier to track and harder to fall in the potty)

36. Velcro name, practice writing name, trace letters

37. Call Grandma to report progress

38. Get the mail (during a break)

39. Lacing boards

40. Princesses go potty (work on “___ go potty” with toy flushing potty)

41. Call Daddy

Chelsea was on a big princess puzzle kicki

How Chelsea Did

Day 1- Chelsea was actually a little sick the first day, but we couldn’t put potty training off- I had already arranged for my husband and son to take a long weekend out of state. That day, she peed 8 times, half in the potty by the time she finished, and the rest on the floor. She also peed in her activity box, so learn from me and keep it higher up than the floor.

Day 2- Chelsea did lots more standing today (yesterday it was mostly sitting on the potty), and starting moving to the potty when she was about to start. She peed 16 times (5 on floor, 11 in potty), and pooped once. We learned that tying her shirt tight makes her feel what is happening better, and keeps my eyes right on that her bum, to watch for any accidental deposits on the floor. We also learned that pouring warm water over her while she sat on the potty helped with the sensation of peeing. She also learned that if she waited for the 1 minute that I had to go potty, she could go on the floor without being snatched up and put on the potty (which scares her a little). She also had her first poop on the potty! She started going on the floor, but I snatched her up in the nick of time so that it fell into the potty.

Day 3- We still stayed in the bathroom doing a puzzle marathon today, but did venture outside a couple times for her 10-15 minute breaks, to get the mail, or go down the slide a few times. Her potty tracking was 6 times peeing (4 in potty, 2 floor), and pooped twice (she requested once and made it, the other time missed her signal and it landed on the floor). She wasn’t thirsty at all today, and I had HUGE amounts of anxiety, thinking that she would pee any second we left the bathroom for those quick breaks. I was totally freaking out that she went about 10 fewer times than yesterday.

Day 4- Only 5 times total today, but she went in the potty every time except right before bed. She even woke up dry that morning, and went right to the potty! I took her every 10 minutes to try, and after about 2 hours, would turn on the faucet and pour water on her, which helped. Right before bed, we were playing and I forgot to take her to try, so she went in her undies. My bad.
A brief outdoor excursion to our apt park

Day 5- Woke up wet, and had 4 accidents, and just 2 successes, still taking her every 10-15 minutes (which, by the way, still feels like you live in the bathroom) Several of the accidents happened about a minute after I took her off the potty. One of the times she went in the potty, she had said potty, then screamed hysterically while she peed, and I had to hold her on the potty until she was done. For several of the accidents, she would wait until I had to go, then pee in the 30 seconds that I was using the toilet. One of the others, she peed on the slide outside. Additionally, her little brother came back home, and had multiple accidents of his own after seeing that Chelsea didn’t get in trouble for HER accidents. Seriously discouraging day, and I cried for about an hour, convinced that my child would never learn to use the potty, and wondered if I was just wasting my time trying to teach her.

Day 6- Despite her waking up poopy, I took her potty every 15 minutes with religious dedication, and had a determinedly positive attitude because of the horrible day before. It paid off! She went potty 10 times, and 8 times made it into the potty, with just 2 accidents, but she signed “accident” each time, and realized that it was supposed to go in the potty! I noticed that she would act scared of the potty right before she went. She got her average of sitting on the potty down to 3-5 minutes before she went.

Day 7- We aren’t pouring water as much, but turning the faucet on still helps, so we do that. The trickling water helps her remember to potty, and I noticed her focusing right before she peed in the potty! She IS learning! Today, she had 3 accidents (one was my fault for not taking her- I struck up a conversation with an actual adult, and missed my timer), but she also had 8 successes!!! Hooray! She also told me about her accidents after she had them, which is still progress- she is noticing and reporting, and trying to get to the potty most of the time!!!

Day 8- All 11 attempts were successes! More focusing, and she even went right away a few times!

Later- She still took a LONG time to get successful with pooping in the potty consistently. It wasn’t until we moved and had a great school team that helped her at school that she finally got the pooping part. Having a great special ed teacher makes all the difference!!!