In our family I have many many roles. I am not just a wife; I am a nurturer, doctor, nurse, teacher, cab driver, cook, house keeper, homework helper, clothing washer, cheerleader, coach and disciplinarian to my 2 young children. A new role just added to my list of titles -a plumber.
My 5 year old Austria was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder and has many sensory issues. At one point, she was obsessed of playing with lotion, shampoo and any liquid type of make-up. She will squeeze a tube of toothpaste until the contents are gone or mixed with other stuff.
One day while she was taking a bath, she got hold of my expensive shampoo and poured the whole contents in the bath tub. Blame it to me. I forgot to place it back at the shampoo rack dispenser after I showered.
Countless times we have said “No!” and “We don’t do that!” Thank God through the help of her therapist, she was able to gradually eliminate that behavior. Oh well, it was a very short relief.
Once she was potty trained and became independent going to the toilet, our new nightmare began. Austria became fixated of getting rolls of tissue to wipe her private part after using the toilet. She dumps the tissue paper inside the toilet bowl that causes it to clog.
We used to call a plumber a lot and oh boy, it was draining our wallet! So we researched how to unclog a toilet bowl. We experimented with dish soap and hot water method, plunger method, wire coat method, plumbing snake method, vacuum method, enzymes method and baking soda and vinegar method. We became very good at it!. And if these methods don’t do its job, we just call the plumber again!
We did our best in monitoring her when she goes potty. We make sure that she uses just enough tissue paper. I have tons of chores at home and I really don’t get to watch her most of the time. Although we trained her to ‘ask mommy’, she still finds her way to go without letting me know.
There were several incidents she clogged the bowl and the water overflowed! Thank God it was just pee!!!! I had to dry the floor and sanitized it.
The clogging of the toilet bowl stopped for a while and I kinda knew she’ll move to another fixation of some sort. As expected, this time she started playing with the tissue paper on the sink bowl! One afternoon as i was walking through the hallway, I wondered why the carpet is soaking wet. I opened the bathroom and to my horror, the whole bathroom was under water!!! Austria clogged the sink again! So I have to go through the whole ordeal of cleaning up and vacuuming the whole area. Most of the time, Moses is not around when it happens so I do the unclogging.
I used to easily get mad, irritated, and react when those events happen. We are getting tired and frustrated. This is not acceptable! We are doing an intensive unpleasant behavior intervention with the help of her therapist and we are seeing some progress.
Just to make sure that she does not do it again, we recently placed a hook to lock the door so she does not really have a choice but to ask mommy when she feels like going. It can be challenging at times but taking care of a special needs child is a blessing and a privilege at the same time.