How We Dealt With Our "Bathroom Issue"

One of the most important things, in my opinion, as a parent of two autistic kids, and honestly kids in general, is to get on my kids' team and figure out why they are doing what they're doing, what their needs are, and try to work with them. I find there are some parents of autistic kids that view their kids as having problems that they need to try to fix, but I would never take that approach. Instead, I try to understand the reasoning behind their behaviors that I find difficult, and either find a way to accept these as unique quirks of my kids that don't need to be changed, or find an alternative for them that meets their needs while taking into account the needs of other family members. To do this, I ask for advice from other autistic adults, as well as family therapists and my kids' school therapists.

So a little more than a year ago I wrote about bed time issues in my family, and the advice I followed from my kids' therapist which ended up really helping. The kids went to sleep more easily, but still, Rose was coming into my bed in the middle of the night and it was making it really hard for me to sleep and made me wake up all touched out. I figured out a solution that helped her be able to get what she was looking from me in the middle of the night- touch- via massaging her as I put her to bed. But there was still another factor. My bathroom.

In our small home, we have two bathrooms. One that is off the main hallway, and one en suite in my bedroom.

Rose refused to use the regular bathroom. She only ever would use my bathroom. She wanted me right outside the bathroom as she used it, and if I was in the bathroom, she would have an accident instead of using the other bathroom.

And since she was coming to my bathroom in the middle of the night, she ended up in my bed despite what I was doing at bed time.

So for this, I tried talking with both her school psychologist and our family psychologist, and it came down to it- there was some underlying anxiety about using the bathroom, and by going to Mommy's bathroom (especially if Mommy was right outside the door) it helped alleviate some of the anxiety. I tried to figure out if there was a way to lessen the anxiety, wondered if maybe talk therapy would help, but they said at her age, its probably subconcious, she probably doesn't even realize she's anxious, so working on it from that angle wouldn't help.

But at the same time, this issue was causing a lot of drama and tension in our home, and I couldn't just ignore it. But I needed to do something that would work for both Rose and the family.

The kids' psychologist had an idea that she thought might work, but no guarantees. At first, she would only use my bathroom because it had something special that helped override the other bathroom issues, so why not do what we could to make the family bathroom special as well? She recommended decorating it to be extra special and "girly" with things that Rose picked out, to make it a room that was fun to be in.

And so, we went on Amazon and found a bunch of wall decals and Rose picked our a bunch of galaxy colored unicorn wall decals. We also got stick on mirror decals as well. And lastly, we got twinkly fairy lights to put in the bathroom.

When we ordered them, we made a big to-do about how we're making the kids' bathroom amazing and fun, and then when they arrived, I let Rose decide where to put each sticker (though I did give some recommendations about where to put the mirrors. Then Anneliese offered to also put her glow in the dark solar system stickers on the bathroom wall, and they placed them together.

(Sorry that the fairy lights aren't in the picture, but they're hanging close to the ceiling, off of the protruding vent, and the remote control to get them going is sitting in the basket above the toilet.)

As soon as the bathroom was finished being decorated, Rose was really excited to use the bathroom and wanted to be the first one to use it.

Since that point, we've had no more bathroom issues. Rose gladly uses the bathroom, and if someone is in the bathroom, she'll happily use my bathroom as well. But there's no more anxiety over the bathroom. She loves it now.

See, sometimes the littlest fixes can make the biggest difference.

I mean, I could have gone head to head with her and forced her to use the other bathroom or do things that ignored her needs. But instead, we made it a place she wanted to be, and everyone is happy.

If anyone has a similar issue with their kids, maybe something similar could work for yours as well.

Have you had similar issues with your children, and if so, what did you do to try to resolve the issue? Do you try to also go with the approach of modifying your parenting style and decision to suit your kids needs while still finding ways that work for the rest of the family?

Penniless Parenting

Mommy, wife, writer, baker, chef, crafter, sewer, teacher, babysitter, cleaning lady, penny pincher, frugal gal


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  1. Amazing! So glad that worked for you. I had a 3 and 5 year old in the same class at school. 3yo was always following 5yo around, and 5yo was annoyed. We tried talking about and 3yo said that they missed 5yo and the rest of the family when they weren't with 5yo. So I ordered a picture dogtag necklace with a photo of the whole family on one side and the siblings on the other for 3yo to wear to school to look at when they missed 5yo. Solved the problem, and after a few weeks, 3yo didn't even need to wear the necklace anymore. The necklace cost about $20.

  2. This is brilliant, what a lovely solution.

  3. So glad you were able to solve this issue with such a simple but brilliant idea! Hats off to the kid's psychologist who's definitely earning her wage!

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