Friday, August 31, 2012

Potty Training A Child With Autism

Ahh... Toilet training! That delightful challenge every parent has to face... and it can be pretty hard work at the best of times, even with healthy children. So imagine how tricky things can get when you add autism into the mix. But help is at hand, and we're going to look at a few tips and techniques you can try to make potty training easier and, hopefully, more successful.

1. Patience - Your Number 1 Virtue

Never lose sight of the fact that it's going to be a bit of a journey and it won't be straightforward. So don't get totally wound up and don't feel a failure. You might have to try more than one thing to find the right solution for your child. Every child is different and there's no one-size-fits-all quick, clean easy answer.

2. Is your Child Ready?

Just because you might have read somewhere that children are ready at the age of two, it doesn't mean that it's the magic age for your child. You have to look for signs of readiness, and these could show much later than average. For example, look for signs of your child:

being aware that they have a wet or dirty diaper/nappy - they could pull at it, or take it off, for instance
being able to imitate what you do - so you can effectively demonstrate sitting on the toilet
responding well to positive reinforcement - when you give your child something they like they're more likely to do the behaviour you're teaching them. (We call this 'loving bribery' in our house)
staying clean and dry most nights
3. When should you start?

If your child shows the readiness signs later than average children, don't worry - it's quite usual for autistic children. Just make sure that your child is happy to co-operate, can sit on a potty for a toilet for a short time, is able to dress and undress and recognises the clues that mean they need the bathroom.

4. Coping with Impaired Social Interaction

Problems understanding language and logic could mean that your child finds it difficult to understand what they're expected to do. Why should they pee or poop in the toilet or potty rather than their diaper or nappy? And they also may find it difficult to express what they need. Your challenge here is to recognise their cues and help them to tell you what they want.

5. Coping with Sensory Problems

Unusual reactions to sensory stimuli - for instance, smells temperature and sounds - are experienced by many autistic children, so watch how your child reacts in or near the bathroom. Do the different smells from cleaning liquids and perfumes in the room cause problems? Is the bathroom colder or hotter than other rooms and do they respond negatively to the change in temperature? Do the noisy pipes and flushing toilet upset them?

The key here is to remove as many of the upsetting obstacles as you can. That could mean putting lower wattage lights in the room, making sure your child wears socks or slippers on the tiled floor or explaining the noises and making them into a game.

6. Using Rewards

This is my family's 'Loving Bribery' system! By the way, it works a treat with all toddlers and most adults, so by all means use widely! First, identify something your child loves. This could be a food treat or special drink, or maybe a particular toy. Then make sure that everyone only gives your child this reward as part of toilet training. The aim is to associate the loved thing with a specific behaviour and so increase the likelihood of that behaviour happening.

7. Identify Your Child's Routine

By creating a time log of what your child does and when - and what the outcomes are - you will be able to build these times into your toilet training. So, over a week, write down times your child eats and drinks, wets, soils and is changed. Then when you know, for example, that your child wets 15 minutes after drinking you can make that part of the toilet training process.

8. Punishment is Outlawed!

Toilet accidents are not to be punished. It's far more useful to use them as opportunities to explain to your child why they should use the potty. Make sure that everyone who has contact with your child understand this and follows your system.

9. And Stress is Outlawed, Too!

There is absolutely no benefit to you or your child getting stressed and harassed over potty training. If your child feels pushed into a corner they won't co-operate and they'll turn against the very things you're trying to get them to use. Let them get used to the potty or toilet without expecting results. make as much of this into a game as you can. And DON'T get wound up yourself. You do need to be strong, cool and calm.

And finally... Remember what we've said throughout this article: the Potty Training Process IS going to take time... just give it the time it needs for your child to latch onto a new idea and a new skill. And stay positive!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Ways to Deal With Autism Kids

The category of autism spectrum disorders includes autism, Asperger's syndrome, Rett syndrome, pervasive developmental disorder, and childhood disintegrative disorder. Autism, however, is quite different from the other conditions as it comprises all the symptoms that others only partly display.

For the parent who has noticed that his or her child is different from other children of the same age, whether at a cognitive, emotional or behavioral level, the first step is learning as much as possible about autism and how it manifests, and the second is getting an official diagnosis. Also, autism is a lifelong condition that requires special therapy and treatment, so the sooner this issue is tackled, decisions are made and the training program starts, the better are the chances for an autistic child to acquire the abilities and knowledge needed for a normal social functioning.

Once the parents know what they are up against, whether autism or another autism spectrum disorder, there are several things of vital concern that need to be understood. One of these is for them to accept that the child's condition is not their fault, that there is nothing they could have done to prevent it and that the only way to approach such a situation is with clarity, determination and full dedication. Another important thing parents with autistic children should know is that they can be actively involved in therapy sessions by watching, learning and applying cognitive behavioral methods on a daily basis, thus reinforcing positive behavior. They can also opt for school-based programs especially designed for children with such a condition.

Under no circumstances should parents give up the behavioral therapy sessions, especially if the child has made noticeable progress. Their attitude towards dealing with this condition needs to be consistent and their daily routines carefully planned so as to include time to play, to find effective ways of communication and to prevent repetitive, unwanted behavior. Parents need to invest time and energy into helping their child as best they can.

For those parents who have reached a point where they feel like their child has not made any progress, who feel helpless, depressed or desperate, there are support groups and family therapy to help them cope with the situation. Having a child with autism poses challenges that parents are not always prepared to handle, but with the right treatment, plan, unconditional love and support progress can be a reality. It is hardship but as parents, never give up in anyway.