Campbell my middle child, is as stubborn as, well, me! If his mind is made up about something it is made up.
Althought hard to toilet train, Kallan was sorted before he went to kindy. Campbell on the other hand had huge anxiety around anything to do with the toilet. We literally couldn’t walk past a public toilet with out a melt down. It was a real phobia.
We really wanted him trained before he started kindy. We tried bribing him with everything we could think of. New clocks, new toy cars, his own steering wheel and gauges we would buy from a wrecker. Nothing was buying this kid on to using the toilet.
We tried buying a potty. Then three different types of fancy toilet seat. We tried buying him all sorts of cool jocks with cartoon characters he liked on them. None of those were successful either. So Campbell went off to kindy in nappies and we were feeling frustrated. Having communication and language delays meant he couldn’t tell us exactly why he wouldn’t use the toilet or was scared.
When Campbell got to school an OT came in to access the toileting issue. The school had been brilliant, they had built a change station for Campbell in a disabled toilet but of course Campbell wouldn’t go in there because there was a toilet in there. She told us his anxiety was so great that we should wait until he was 7 or 8 before attempting to get him on the toilet.
The school and I both disagreed and decided that if I could force Campbell into the room he would see it was fine and they could atleast get him in there and change his nappies. So I went in to the school one day, told him he had to go use his change room, reassured him that he was not going on to the toilet and marched him in.
He screamed the school down. It possibly sounded like I was murdering someone in there. I heaved him up on to the change table kicking and screaming. Then I changed his nappy. He eventually calmed and then it was explained that this was all that was happening in this room, he did not have to use the toilet. He was always happy to go in there after that.
Once they could get him in there his support workers at school went ahead leaps and bounds with Campbell. If it wasn’t for their patience I don’t know if Campbell would ever have been toilet trained.
Campbell had noticed that the other children in his class did not wear nappies. This worried him. He didn’t want them to see his and this was great motivation for him. Toilet became the new obsession. He asked his teacher to show him how to write it. He followed all of us to the toilet to watch us asking “what you doing? Wee or poo?” Followed by a worried “you not fall in?” At least 20 times! We also had to buy toilet signs for our toilet door at home. I don’t know why he wanted this but it made it easy to get him in there, so we did.
The school had gotten him to sit on the toilet, fully clothed at first and then slowly encouraged him to sit with pants off. He was allowed to use a timer and when the timer finished counting down he could hop off. So we brought a timer for home and he hopped on our toilet too.
I will never forget the day, I was out food shopping and the school rang. It was one of Campbell’s suppport workers, Campbell had done a poo on the toilet and they were jumping up and down with excitement, as was I! Would have been a funny conversation to overhear.
I am fairly certain it was two terms into the school year and Campbell had become toilet trained, I could have this wrong as it was a few years a go now. I know that once he overcame his fear and turned it to an obsession, it all just clicked into place.
In 2014 Campbell started at a new school in WA. He refused to use the toilets there for the 1st two terms. He would hop in the car at 3:05 nearly wetting himself, poor thing. Again the school was brilliant, allowing him to use a staff toilet, slowly taking him in there every day and encouraging him. By term 3 he was using the staff toilet and by term 4 he was happy to use the same toilets as his peers.
We still have a few issues around toilets, Campbell refuses to use most public toilets. He is terrified of hand dryers. We had one embarrassing incident where we went and on a family day out to the aquarium in Perth. Campbell refused to use the public toilet but he was absolutely busting and we were an hour and a half away from home. Jeff forced him into the public toilet there and un-plugged the hand dryer, but nothing was calming him down. I walked the other two kids off for a second and a lady walked up to the toilet door and banged on it wanting to know what was happening in there.
Jeff was mortified and I tried to explain to her that Campbell had austim and Jeff was his Dad. I’m not sure what she was thinking of us. In the end we gave up on the toilet and headed out of the aquarium to the car. Outside I saw another public toilet, this one looked a bit yucky and old but I knew we had to try again and luck was on my side. No hand dryer. I told Campbell and he happily went in as if nothing had happened before.
Campbell still won’t use many public toilets. Which makes it hard to go out. If we do it’s got to be a disabled one and I must un-plug the hand dryer and stand guard of it. He will only use one of our two toilets at home. He will also refuse to use toilets at certain people’s house’s because some toilets “creep him out”.
He tells me he was so scared when he was smaller because he was certain he would fall in. He also said to say that if other kids are scared of the toilet you should just make them try a little bit at a time because they are too tiny and could fall in.
I think his depth perception might be different to everyone else’s and the toilet looks much bigger and deeper to him.
I am glad our toilet terror and subsequent toilet obsession is in the past,