Traveling with a child on the autism spectrum can be a challenge. Traveling with a child on the autism spectrum who has a dreadful fear of the toilet can be a nightmare.
To prepare Kate for a weekend getaway in the mountains, we essentially outlined the entire trip for her. School first, then lunch, then long car ride, then check-in at front desk at mountain hotel, then go to mountain hotel room, then unpack, then go swimming... and so on. You get the idea. We showed Kate pictures of the resort we were staying at and talked about the activities we would be doing. We brought some of her favorite toys from home, and of course, her potty seat.
It should be noted that Kate is quite particular when it comes to toilets. To date she has used only five different toilets. Our powder room toilet, the toilet in Grandma's powder room, the toilet in Grandmom's powder room, the toilet in Jane's powder room, and the toilet in the right-hand stall at school. She has never used a toilet in a public restroom, which presents obvious problems when leaving the 2-mile radius around our house. In Kate's world, toilets must meet certain standards- they must have lids, they must have "big water" (meaning a full bowl of water), the water must stay up, and the flush must not be loud. If those criteria are not met, anxiety abounds, and a full-blown tantrum and wet pants result.
It should also be noted that Kate has yet to have a bowel movement in the toilet. Even the mere suggestion of using the toilet for that function instead of a diaper further ratchets up the anxiety level, causing her to withhold her bowel movements for up to a week at a time. That, however, is a story in and of itself and worthy of its own special post.
Fortunately, the toilet in our mountain hotel room met all of the necessary criteria. However, Kate had a great deal of anxiety using it the first time. For over a half hour Kate danced and twirled and flapped around the bathroom, repeatedly asking if the toilet had a lid, if it had "big water", if the water would stay up, if the flush would be loud. Yes. Yes. Yes. No. Finally, the desire to go swimming beat out the toilet anxiety, and we had success. Kate's peeing repertoire has now been expanded to six toilets.
It was hit or miss the rest of the weekend. By Sunday afternoon, our hotel bathroom was littered with eight pairs of wet and/or soiled princess panties, two pairs of pants, one pair of tights, one pair of pajamas, one pair of socks, and one pair of shoes. Needless to say, I am glad to be home. Home is where Kate's favorite toilet is. And that means a happy, dry little girl.