Thursday, June 5, 2014

The Poopy Button

Warning:  This post involves poo talk, but I felt others may be in the same boat as we were so I felt it was my duty to share this post with the hope it brings sanity (& cleanliness) back to your decorated in crap (literally) house.

The title alone should make you shudder....but oh what a brilliant idea.

We've had our issues with Lily and potty training.

Confession time:  Potty training or lack thereof is probably the most disliked parts of parenting for me.

Two were fairly easy to train at least in comparison to their siblings and Dasha arrived potty trained (Thank you God!).  The rest.....well suffice to say were low achievers at the art of using a toilet.

Autism and/or Down syndrome can really affect the way a child feels about bodily functions. They either go hog wild and embrace, touch, play, throw, smear... you get the idea...with what we find offensive in every single aspect.  Or you have the ones who are oblivious to it all and wouldn't care if they lived in diapers, Pull-ups or underwear for the rest of their life just as long as someone else dealt with the mess.  They really just don't give a crap.  We, the parents or the caretakers, go off the deep end losing our minds trying break the disgusting cycle of the aforementioned while we do the dirty work for the latter.

Lily has been "pee-trained" for awhile now.  It took a Fisher Price musical potty for it to click in her mind what peeing was all about.  She needed to figure out the connection of the sensation of a full bladder and needing to go to the potty to pee.  The problem was she really didn't care and it took months with a lot of stern voices and then elated cheering to see any results. Candy, cookies, stickers or other incentives didn't work with Lily.

Once she became pee-trained, she then started using her nighttime Goodnites as her poop diaper.  We couldn't get her to achieve a BM in the toilet so she had no concrete visual experience to go off of for a long while until surprise one day she did it.  I'm pretty sure I announced it on Facebook and most likely everyone within a mile radius heard my shout of joy that first time it happened.  Sadly afterwards, it was hit or miss on using the toilet since she still favored using her Goodnite diaper at night for poop time.

We also started having poop accidents or Shitastrophes as we've been known to call them. These started after she got her spica cast off 2 years ago after dislocating her hip and needing major hip surgery.  It's like everything she'd learned about bathroom etiquette (which wasn't much :/) before being stuck in that full body spica cast bedridden for 4 freaking months was completely forgotten and we were back to square one.  It was awful.  To help you understand a little better I should mention that Lily doesn't call us for anything ever.  I've never heard her say "Mommy come here" or "Mommy help me" so obviously she would never call us to say "Yoo-hoo, I've pooped!"

There were multiple incidents of butt-scooting down the carpeted stairs in a leaking diaper full of poo or an even better version was her going poo on the potty and then butt-scooting down the stairs leaving a skid mark the length of our staircase to share the good news of her going "poopy...potty" with a big smile on her face.  Sometimes, we'd find her sitting on one of our leather couches bare cheeked playing on her iPad oblivious to the stench and nastiness penetrating our furniture.  Other times, she'd poop on the potty, get off without wiping and walk in her room to put on a new pair of undies without a word.  She'd then go through 4 or 5 pairs of undies because they kept getting dirty.  She's also famous for dropping her drawers, going poop on the potty and climbing back in bed sans panties and then wait until I find her with poo streaks on her sheets to say "poopy?" with a grin the size of Texas so proud was she.

To say I handled these Shitastrophes with grace, serenity and calm would be a big fat lie.  Lily now holds her ears when one of these events happens because I guess I've been a bit loud when facing an enormous clean-up.  We've actually replaced her bedroom and the upstairs hall's carpeting with hardwoods to ease the clean-up.

Then came my salvation.  The Poopy Button (that's what we're calling it) was suggested by one of our Developmental teachers who comes to our house to work with 3 of our kids on academics to further enhance their learning.  I was ranting about another incident regarding poop and one of them said I should get one of those wireless door bells and put the chime down on the first floor and the button next the toilet.  I thought it sounded kinda crazy and doubted Lily would understand what we wanted her to do.

We purchased one mid priced remote doorbell ($15-20?) at Lowe's or Home Depot (I forget which place) and installed it.  Her Print Shop savvy daddy made a cute little sign with a picture of her beloved Barney on it to place next to The Poopy Button.  We then showed it to her, demonstrated how it worked and waited for her to poop one night on the toilet.  Once she poo'd, we rang the doorbell, which even Lily can hear from where she's sitting on the potty and we can hear on the first floor, and then got really excited about the entire thing for her.  Praised her for pushing the button and reiterated over and over how we wanted her to push the button every time she goes poopy. 

We were very skeptical that she even understood our expectations.

Well lo and behold, the next night, I heard the doorbell chime (which is set to a different tone than our front doorbell) and ran upstairs.  There was Lily proud and happy sitting on the toilet waiting for me.  As soon as she saw me she announced "Poopy!"  To say I was ecstatic would surely be an understatement and since that night she's used the poopy button multiple times. YAY Lily!!!!

Our next goal will be mastering wiping, but for now I won't gross you out anymore than I've already done with this post. :)




Shannon Brandon said...

I don't care Shitastrophe is an awesome word! Yay for Lilly!

Victoria said...

That was great! I may try this. Now, if we can get him to recognize feeling he has to pee.

Parker's Mom said...


Anonymous said...

This is awesome idea gonna try it with my son.

hsb7x said...

wow- what a great idea. I love it when people are honest- and it helps the rest of us who are clueless. After potty training 5 kids- and now have a "regular" 3 1/2 year old who loves to play in poo. I don't know what the deal is this time- he isn't delayed in any area that I know of- but he was adopted at 6 months. Maybe we have an orphanage delay. But I need help in this area. I sit him on the potty and walk out of the room to let him do his business and he will have poo smeared all over himself and not much in the potty. I am not sure what the heck he is doing - but at this point I think I would rather continue in diapers. Maybe this doorbell would work for us.

Shelby Cavanaugh said...

Wow! Wish i had seen this 14 years ago when colleen was 4 and pee trained... the poo training took another 4 years when she was 8. Now she started having pee accidents again the past 4 years but dont think this would help... she doesnt do it on purpose n is very sporatic :( great idea though... congrats!

Marisa Feathers said...

I could have used this with my now teenage sons with autism... Way back when.
Awesome idea and Shitastrophe is my new favorite word.

Cyndi Burns said...

Wonderful story I would love to share with our local office of our Down Syndrome support.

Anonymous said...

Love this! Thanks for sharing! Shitastrophe is a hilarious new word, too. :)

Karen Johnson said...

Totally Awesome. We have had many of what you call "shitastrophes"...and I so wish I had had that word. Love the button idea. Thanks for letting us all know we are not alone in our Potty Trials.

Michelle Gonzalez said...

Thank you for sharing your experience! We are living in the "House of Feces" my son has DS and also is not fully potty trained. We call it shit-storms. He has desecrated our carpet and continues to play in his poop if he wakes in the middle of the night after a huge BM. It can be quite overwhelming. So, thank you for sharing so I know I'm not the only one. I have had several graceless tantrums over the situation even though I'm normally a pretty patient person.