Potty Training Preschooler With SPD

by Lynn
(Columbus, OH)

My son is 4 1/2 years old.

He has been peeing in the potty for some time now, however we cannot get him to sit on the toilet to have a BM. He never did sit down to pee, but did it standing up from the beginning. He is tactile defensive and a sensory avoider.

It does seem like he is afraid of the sensation of sitting up on the toilet over a hole. We have a very good stable potty seat and a stool for him to use, but the problem is getting him up there at all! He is not motivated by the promise of reward or being a "big boy".

He is in his second year of preschool and due to start kindergarten in the fall. He is a VERY strong willed child and shows no interest in achieving this milestone. I'm in fear all the time that he will be kicked out of preschool (which he loves) if they find out he's not completely potty-trained.

Also, there's the issue of starting kindergarten. Any suggestions?

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You're not alone
by: Anonymous

My son is exactly the same and he starts school in September. He to will stand for a pee but not a BM. He got so bad that he was witholding which, in the end, ended him in hospital and now has been on medication for a year.

The advise I was given by the nurse who deals with this is to back off and don't make an issue of it, as this will add more fear to the process. Let him know that he is a good boy for doing the pee and let him know that he will not get told off for not doing the number 2.

My little lad this week has started to wear pants around the house to try and help him understand. But he knows if number 2 is required he can have a nappy... little steps can lead to big ones.

His school is setting up a school entry programme to help him with his needs. Can you talk to your school about yours?

At the end of the day all kids learn things at different rates. But please bare with it as it will come.

Being in England I have no one to talk to about this problem, so I know how lonely it can be.

Potty suggestions
by: Anonymous

Hi Lynn!

We have a 4 1/2 yr. old son who experienced exactly what you are describing. He would make a BM in a potty chair, but would not sit on the toliet for BM's. He stands to urinate. I purchased the potty chair with an attached ladder from One Step Ahead. The potty seat and stool were not going over well. He was very resistant to the new one also, initially. The fear, we believe, was merely the sitting on the potty and not seeing the successful results (the BM) to continue with the rest of the expected routine (flushing, hand washing, etc.) as previously envisioned by the "Once upon a Potty" video and numerous potty books which we kept in the bathroom.

First, we removed the potty chair, so that was not an option. I would not respond to his demands for a diaper. Yes, he did have accidents, and we would flush those down the potty and verbalize, "bye, bye, poopie." Finally, I actually placed him on the new potty seat and made sure his feet were secured on the ladder. He was moaning. I held him secured by my arms on the seat and continued to talk to him, constantly reassuring, telling him he could do it. This took a few days and many attempts. In the evening my husband and myself were in the bathroom going through the process together. When he began to feel secure on the seat we sat on the tub next to him and read the potty books or sang songs. Once he felt secure and had a couple successful BM's, we put the struggle behind us.

I recommend no other family members, guests, visitors involved during the process..just main care givers and only at home initally in the bathroom of his preference. I would offer rewards along the way for attempting to sit on the potty, for sitting calmly on the potty, for the BM, etc. Build the reward system as you go. It did not work for us to have the reward in sight, because it became about "not getting it"-trantrum, if he wasn't successful. We started out small-tootsie roll and worked up to going to "the dollar store" with the actual BM. We also used Santa in Dec. I would call Santa who would deliver a gift to the door. Then, we began backing off (ie. 5 BM's= gift). Once we felt we were completely successful, we started rewarding for other "big boy" achievements such as going and falling asleep in your own bed, staying in bed, following directions, dressing self, etc. He also had him write the number (1-5) on a chart.

I will tell you it was like I was "breaking a horse in". Listening to his moaning and feeling his insecurity was almost unbearable. I told the therapists I'm sure it would have been awful to watch. The key ,I think for him, was repeatedly placing him on the potty and giving him that physical and verbal support. Now when he goes, although independent, he wants us to see his "big or small poopie" before he flushes it. He is so proud.

Good Luck,


Potty stress
by: Dawn Smith

I found out the hard way that my son is terrified of the toilet. He is 5 1/2 and still uses a potty chair, on the floor. The Baby Bjorn one...no bells or whistles...just plain white plastic. Once I got with the program (not him), we had no more issues. We take it with us everywhere in a black trash bag with some antibacterial wipes. It has been in bathrooms in 6 states. It is a pain, but much easier than stressing us all. I find if I can make the little things easier for him, the big things aren't so big.

good luck

Answers to questions re: potty training SPD
by: Lynn in Columbus

Those are good questions and info I forgot to include. He received OT for about a year where they focused on tactile defensiveness and his perception of his body in space (balancing, jumping, swinging, rolling, climbing, etc.). He got great help and today on the playground the average bystander would not pick out differences between my son and typical kids. The only OT he still gets is with a feeding specialist for his extremely picky eating. He is aware when he needs to poop. He goes and gets himself a pullup, puts it on, goes in the bathroom and goes in the pullup sitting on the floor (then I change it). He is on Miralax which does help his constipation greatly. He does have a potty chair but it is so small for him! He's mainly terrified of toilets (the hole, coldness, noise).

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