Adam came home from school with the most extraordinary news yesterday, while his teachers were changing his nappy, they thought he might just need a wee. So they stood him in front of the school toilets, and obediently, he did so.
For many children, beginning to understand their bodily functions is a normal and natural part of life that can happen as young as 18 months old. But for a child with autism, like Adam, this level of understanding does not come naturally and, for some disabled children, it never comes at all. There are plenty of children in Adam's school that remain in nappies up to and over the age of ten years. Adam himself is nearly five.
For the longest time, Adam has shown absolutely no awareness of, or interest in, his bodily functions. Toilet training simply wasn't a possibility and we had resigned ourselves to him remaining in nappies for an indeterminate period of time. In this, we are immensely grateful that the NHS provides larger size nappies, free of charge, for disabled children as it is not possible to buy them in shops.
But this message, sent home from school was the cause of so much joy and, never ones to push our luck, we decided to try him on a potty before his bedtime shower - and low and behold, success again!
This means that we can now begin the next challenge which might just lead to some more development and maybe even eventually the tiniest bit of independence for our son. In agreement with his teacher, from next week, Adam's school will begin to work on toilet training him and will guide us through the process of doing this with an autistic child. It will mean new Makaton signs, new printed symbol cards to help him visually understand the process, and of course a great deal of patience as nothing in the world of autism comes quickly. But this is a step we take with a great deal of excitement because it is one we honestly believed might never come.
Today is a good day. :-)