What's A-Parent

Mom Opens Up About Potty Training Her Child With Autism, Reminds Other Parents Not To Be Afraid To Ask For Help

"Families with children who have special needs require above and beyond for most things. I've said that before, but I'll say it again."

What's A-Parent is a series highlighting those who get real about the hardships that come with raising kids. These often untold stories help show parents they are not alone in their struggle, and are doing an amazing job.

"Being potty trained opens up a whole new world of inclusion for our extra special little people, and that's what we long for most of all," North Carolina mom Adrian Wood wrote in a post on her Facebook page.

In the post, Wood opened up about potty training her 3-year-old son, Amos, who has autism. She admits that though she trained her other three children easily, she found it difficult to potty train Amos, and didn't know where to find help. 

But after talking with a stranger, Wood discovered the Emory Autism Center at the Emory University School of Medicine, a center that aims to improve the quality of life for those they serve. Autism is prevalent in 1 in 68 children in the United States, according to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

"For one week, we spent five hours in the bathroom with two trained autism therapists, and then Amos and I made our way back to the hotel, where we did more of the same until bedtime. Never have I attempted something that was so challenging and felt so foreign," Wood wrote. "The approach, one of positive rewarding, no punishment, intense routine and flooding my son with liquid and salty snacks was amazing and very different from the way I had successfully trained my first three children."


Catherine Rice, director of the Emory Autism Center, told TODAY that because of their communication barriers, children with autism often have difficulty with such training. 

"Embedded in the program is helping the family develop the skills to learn what really motivates the child so they make good associations with positive events like peeing on the potty," Rice said. Their program lasts five days and uses Applied Behavior Analysis and positive reinforcement to help the children learn. 

And according to Wood, Amos is beginning to catch on. 

Wood concluded her post by asking others to better understand families with children who have special needs, and that being supportive is incredibly helpful.

"Here's the kicker. Families with children who have special needs require above and beyond for most things. I've said that before, but I say it again. My friends and family have been so encouraging and that makes such a difference. It's not easy admitting you need help or wondering if you're doing the right thing and that uplifting support is a game-changer. Be nice and kind and encouraging and try to understand that this is not because we are 'tired of diapers.'"

So far, Wood's post has generated a lot of positive discussion.

"I am in awe of what you have accomplished in such a short time with potty training, but overall you are an awesome mother for all that you do for ALL your children!" one person wrote. 

"Your sharing of this experience helps change the perspective for all of us. Engaging and enlightening," another added, proving just how important it is for people to continue having these conversations.

Cover image via Shutterstock / sico manzer


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