When my son was three, we started taking him to a “playgroup” for Autistic preschoolers. Quite a few of my experiences that I’ll be sharing on this blog, come from what I heard and saw there. One that surprised me – but really shouldn’t have – was the suggestion that I stop trying to toilet-train my child since if I was successful it lowered the liklihood of receiving adequate government funding and support. I initially thought the comment was made in jest, but no it wasn’t, and yes it was a correct statement.
My son’s government appointed Educational Psychologist confirmed how wide-spread the attitude was when she told me of her own accord many months later, that I shouldn’t hold off toilet-training my son just to secure his government funding.
Let’s be clear – it had never crossed my mind to intentionally not toilet-train him – who would want their child in expensive nappies, that you have to change many times a day? Who would actually want their child to live like that? All parents want their kids past the nappy stage as soon as possible. Government support is nice, but not changing a four year old’s nappies is even better (and no we’re not rich enough that the support wouldn’t have made a difference).
I was insulted that the Educational Psychologist would think I would intentionally not toilet-train him, but because of that original conversation months prior, I at least understood where her comment was coming from and didn’t take it as personally as I might otherwise have.
I did eventually get him toilet-trained, when he was four and a half. How I successfully achieved this after years on trying, is an interesting story that I’ll share in another post. And yes the success did and does affect the level of support and educational funding he receives. But you couldn’t pay me to put him back in nappies, and I’d accuse you of being sick if you tried.
The way the funding is set up it does encourage parents not to toilet-train their special needs kids. And even though most (all?) of those parents will do their best to achieve toilet-training anyway, it casts a cruelly suspicious light on those who don’t succeed – as seen in the otherwise un-necessary words of my son’s Educational Psychologist. So no matter which way you come at it, the situation stinks.