Monday, October 24, 2011

Diapering Wars

Brayden turned 3 years old the end of June; which, for children who cannot be on that potty train, means that insurance or Medicaid will begin to cover diapers as an incontinence necessity (just an invaluable tidbit of information if you were unaware, just get a doctor's prescription and seek out your local durable medical equipment company!). May seem minute, but as any parent knows, the budget necessary for raising even a typically developing child grows with the child. Cutting out the monthly expense of diapers helps immensely.

With this milestone, for me, came a new set of emotions which likely every parent on this journey faces. There will be no end to diaper changes, no celebrations for pottying on the big girl/boy toilet, and no rewards for a day without accidents. Some parents are able to semi-potty train with the use of handheld urinals, but even this is difficult when your child cannot sit unassisted and anything more than that is next to impossible since sitting on a toilet is out of the question with no head, neck, and/or trunk stability.

The 3-year check-up at the pediatrician proved grueling as usual, well-baby checks are the worst for special needs parents. Why parents with children who are developmentally disabled even have to be given the checklist of milestones met, let alone asked to fill it out, is beyond me (mine, for example, is always checkmarked no all the way down). Talk about a slap in the face of all the things your child "should" be doing... then asking for a prescription to be submitted for diapers and receiving from the intake nurse the question of "why is this prescription necessary?" is an additional blow. Then, just when you think you've overcome the whole diaper coverage issue, you receive a letter from your primary insurance stating that diapers will not be covered since they are considered a convenience item (according to our primary, Tricare). Thank goodness, in this case, for Medicaid for children with disabilities... don't knock it for those that need it, especially as I know many who don't and  haven't even had to fight for it as many families, including my own! Four months later, we got our first shipment of diapers... a bittersweet moment.

Thanks to our friend Terri Mauro at's Children With Special Needs Guide, the joys of never toilet training our children are realized:

Ten Good Things About Not Toilet Training Your Child
No potty? No problem!

By Terri Mauro, Guide

If your child is late with the potty training, chances are you have plenty of people trying to make you feel guilty about it. But missing that milestone's not all bad. Your child will get to it when the time is right, and in the meantime, you can celebrate these good things about remaining diaper-bound.

1. Public toileting is easier. Yeah, it's a hassle to tote the diaper gear, and find the restroom with the changing table. But think about this: Once your child is free of diapers, you will have to deal with dirty disgusting public toilet seats. And a child who wants to touch things that ought not to be touched. And put the hands in the mouth. Seriously, diaper-table confinement is a blessing to be treasured.

2. Other good fights get fought. Targeting toilet use tends to take over family life and parent-child interactions. Remove it from the stress list until your child is really really ready, and you've got so much time and effort and creativity and ingenuity available for all the other developmental milestones in jeopardy. Pick your battles, and your triumphs, too.

3. You're not diapering, you're bonding. What do you do when you're changing a diaper? Talk to your child? Sing a few numbers? Engage in some nice babble or nuzzling or nonsense? Right there, you've got some good interaction going. Your opportunities for that kind of immobilization and loving communication will not increase over time. Nothing wrong with maximizing them.

4. Pants fit better with diapers. If you have a slim-hipped little one, you know what's going to happen when all that diaper-bulk goes away? Major-league droopy-drawers, that's what. There will be time enough to deal with belts and suspenders and overalls and duct tape and whatever will be required to keep your kiddo decent. For now, appreciate the artificial hips.

5. Diaper bag = big bag of tricks. Having an adequate supply of distractions is invaluable when you're out in public with your child. But purses and pockets can't stash nearly enough to get you through a mall trip or a doctor's visit. Diaper bags, on the other hand, are just full of pockets and pouches and wide open spaces for tucking books and toys and tapes and snacks and what-all. You'll miss it when it's gone.

6. Samples are simpler. When the doctor wants to check out your child's output, scooping something out of a diaper or handing over a wet one is a lot less onerous than catching what goes into the bowl. Ew.

7. Monitoring movements is simpler, too. The more independent your child gets with toileting, the harder it will be for you to answer your pediatrician's questions about potential troubles with waste production. Whereas, when you're diapering, you certainly have detailed knowledge to share. You like to be an informed parent, don'tcha?

8. The only hands that need washing are yours. Once your child is doing his or her own duty, making sure those little hands are washed thoroughly will become an issue, and an issue of much more interest to you than to your child. You're protecting your little one from a germ-filled doom by handling the nasty stuff yourself.

9. Your bathroom stays cleaner. Speaking of hygiene -- diapers have the advantage of keeping messes fairly contained. A child doing independent toileting, not so much. Especially if you have a boy who has trouble standing still.

10. Your child gets to win one. Kids with special needs often have so little control over what happens to them. There's poking and prodding, waiting-room torture, examinations and evaluations, rules and regulations. Though your child may not be able to control what comes out when, neither can anybody else, and that's gotta feel good, you know?

So, this is a little more relevant to parents of children who may some day work on potty training... but looking to the bright side of a seemingly downside, is always a plus!! And I, for one, am thrilled to not have to clean up messes as my little man misses when taking aim at Cheerios in the toilet bowl! What are you thankful for in the diaper wars??

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