Bathroom Anxiety — The Bump
Special Needs

Bathroom Anxiety

My 3 y.o. with PDD-NOS is fully potty trained for urine, stool and overnight and has been for almost a year.  (YAY for that!!) Recently, he has developed severe anxiety about going to the bathroom.  He will not go in alone.  Unless someone stands in the door to the bathroom, he literally will be stuck and can't go.  We have tried to make him go on his own and he will pace in the hallway outside the bathroom until he has an accident.  Someone has to stay in the bathroom with him until he has completed and is ready to exit the bathroom. 

He worries about the toilet overflowing, but that has not happened to him in almost a year.  He also worries about his little brother coming into the bathroom.  We thought maybe it was the combination of these two things that are paralyzing him, but I had a meeting with his lead therapist at his day treatment clinic and she said they are seeing the same thing in that setting. She mentioned that at first she just thought it may be an attention seeking behavior, but after trying some extinction methods, agrees that it is true anxiety about the bathroom.

Does anyone have suggestions for helping him with this? Seeing such a high level of anxiety in such a little guy is just heartbreaking. 

Lilypie First Birthday tickers Lilypie Fourth Birthday tickers Lilypie Kids Birthday tickers

Re: Bathroom Anxiety

  • Have you tried a social story with pictures? We went through a phase when DS was in his early 4's where he would cry and carry on about washing his hands because he was afraid the sink would overflow. The sinks in his public school were always getting clogged and would drain really slowly. Given his penchant for plumbing, he found this deeply disturbing. It wasn't until we sat him down and drew some pictures of the plumbing- and showed him the emergency drain in both the sink and the floor- that he calmed down about it.

    Good luck, it is really hard to see such anxiety. We have had to be very firm with DS about bathroom procedures, especially lately- peeing standing up has created all sorts of anxieties over accidentally peeing on the floor, etc. We've treated it like we did PT'ing in the beginning, we started with treats for successful attempts and have followed through making sure he goes the same way in each of his settings (daycare, home, preschool)

  • She was going to check in with the person that works with him one-to-one on a regular basis. I am also going to check in with his preschool teacher about his bathroom behavior in the classroom. Once we get that pulled together, she was going to give me some recommendations for moving forward.

    What do you suppose a behavioral plan would look like in this case? I assume we would need to have a behaviorist in the home and across the other settings.  Currently, he is enrolled at an out of home day treatment facility two days per week. They use the ESDM model for their services. He also goes to a mainstreamed preschool class two mornings per week. He gets private OT twice a week and private speech once per week.

    Lilypie First Birthday tickers Lilypie Fourth Birthday tickers Lilypie Kids Birthday tickers
  • Loading the player...
  • I have now been in touch with his day treatment MHP and his preschool teacher.  The bathroom anxiety is in fact happening across all settings. 

    I really don't think that my little guy (3 1/2 y.o.) is going to have the language skills or interest to learn about the plumbing. Also, he really isn't the type of kid to care about how things work; it just is not how his brain works.  

    I have an email in to his MHP so hopefully we can start moving forward. 

    Lilypie First Birthday tickers Lilypie Fourth Birthday tickers Lilypie Kids Birthday tickers
  • Thanks for sharing this. It's made me realise that I need to be proactive about the fact that Sir I has major issues with the noise of the toilet flushing in public places, to the point where he won't go potty in a public bathroom. It's ok for now b/c he can sit on his little potty in the car, but he'll be too big for that soon.

     I'll have to talk to his behavior therapist about it.

    LOVE this board :)

    image image
This discussion has been closed.
Choose Another Board
Search Boards