Tackling Trip Training Early Was the Right Move for Me
Trip training is useful to help special needs children establish a toileting routine. With trip training, the child develops the ability to go to the bathroom by being taken at certain times during the day.
This is the method we began using for our then-4-year-old Angel, Juliana, shortly after I read an article about a special needs parent like me who had success with the technique.
Double the trouble
At the time, I was still fuzzy about trip training. With two toddlers, I had no idea how I would pull it off.
What stood out to me in the article was how long it had taken the writer to get her son on a good schedule, a crazy amount of time — like 10 years. She said she started the process when her son was older and regretted waiting so long.
I thought initially that 10 years was an insane amount of time to pull off this task, but it does make sense since every child learns at a different pace. It also makes sense to give your kiddo plenty of time to master it. Reading that article helped me realize that delaying trip training — whether I was ready or not — was not a good idea.
Before starting with Juliana, I worked to get my then-3-year-old daughter, Jessa, on a schedule. Once we got going, we started out with trips after meals and whenever she drank something. When she was wet, I made a note. Eventually, the trips got further apart.
Our trip training routine has been steadily improving over the past seven years. In the mornings, Juliana is on a two-hour schedule, but in the afternoons, we switch to around 1.5 hours. Accidents for her are rare, but they’re what prompted the next level of training.
Getting better with time
A few years ago, Juliana’s teacher felt she was ready to switch from pullup diapers to underwear at school. I was nervous, but we made the step forward and shortly after that transition something really awesome happened.
Juliana kicked her trip training up a notch and started patting her bottom when she needed to head to the bathroom. It took some time to figure out what she was trying to indicate. But what a success!
Now that she is becoming more skilled with the talker on her iPad, Juliana can say when she needs the bathroom. Since Angels are considered nonverbal, an augmentative and alternative communication device gives them the ability to communicate. She uses her iPad to select her choices.
Sometimes, it has looked as if she is randomly selecting the bathroom button. But once I have realized that she really had to go, I am so proud of her for letting me know. I learned the hard way that she wasn’t selecting the bathroom button just for fun.
I cannot say enough about the impact early trip training has had on our lives. It gives me such freedom when we are out and about. I don’t worry that Juliana might be wet. There’s no need to wrestle with a pullup, or find a place for changing.
I manage most trips around Juliana’s bathroom schedule. When I can’t, we simply head to the handicap stall for her next bathroom break. There is also an obvious financial benefit to trip training. With Juliana on a schedule and wearing panties, she needs fewer pullups. When we transitioned her to underwear during the day, it felt like I got a bonus.
There’s an app for that
While we still have some goals to tackle with trip training, we’ve come so far. After Juliana got on a schedule, I quit tracking all of her trips. However, I still track her bowel movements that help alert me to constipation problems.
Early on, I tried a few potty training apps, but they didn’t quite work the way I needed for tracking and reminders. Now, we simply use the timer feature on our Amazon Alexa. Bathroom break times are announced on our phones and our devices throughout the house. Instead of trying to use an app for tracking data, I simply use the note feature on my iPhone. I’ve done it this way since 2018 and it still works well.
Have I found some random wet spots around our house every now and then? Heck, yeah. To minimize accidents, Juliana wears a pullup when she’s home. But even when she is in one, we stay on her schedule. Now that she has a routine, it’s pretty easy to maintain.
Getting her to this point has been easier than I first imagined. And I’m so proud of her mastery of such an important life skill. I thought it was crazy that it might take 10 years for trip training. Now, I get it. Every child is different and developmental delays can make the process more challenging to learn.
But even if it had taken 10 years, it would still have been worth it.
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