Butterfly grew up with food intolerances and was diagnosed with ADHD, Asperger's
Syndrome, and learning difficulties. Now she struggles with OCDs.
This is the story of how we have faced these challenges.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Fears and Toilet Training

Butterfly had a bizarre fear of spherical objects. If she saw a ball, for instance, she would crawl or walk away ~ fearfully. If she saw the moon in the sky late in the afternoon, she would want to go in. One day when Butterfly and I were sitting on the front porch of that little house, her dad, thinking to surprise her ~ in a good way ~ came trotting around the corner of the house blowing bubbles. He had bought the bubble stuff for her. But when she saw those little, translucent spheres floating toward her, she ran into the house screaming.

One time we were visiting friends and were sitting, chatting in the kitchen as Butterfly played contentedly on the floor. Their grown son, who was also visiting, came into the kitchen with a ball. I put up my hand and said, "No.. no.. she'll be afraid of that. Please put it away."

But apparently he didn't believe me, or had some strange need to put it to the test, so he rolled the ball toward her. So there's a baby on the floor with huge eyes, looking for the nearest exit. Why do people do things like that? Did he really think I didn't know my baby? "Oh yeah.. look at that," he says, as if it's all about a new discovery for him, to hell with the kid. I picked her up, of course, and glared at him, the twit.

When I was toilet training Butterfly, it was going along fine, at first. But then one late afternoon she saw a full moon out the little window above the toilet. That changed things. She had run from the bathroom and I couldn't coax her back in. This wouldn't do. You can't toilet train a kid who won't go near the toilet. So first I put curtains on the offending window. I showed them to her, but she was unimpressed. She still wouldn't go into the bathroom, not for love nor money... nor even treats. So then I sat down on the side of the tub with her favourite book and started reading ~ loud enough for her to know that Mommy was in there reading, but too softly for her to hear it clearly from outside the room. The door was ajar, of course. She opened it more. She glanced at the window. The curtain was still in place. She ventured a little closer, I read just a little more softly. After a few minutes she was sitting at my feet enjoying the story, seeming to have forgotten all about the dreaded man in the moon. I had no more trouble getting her in there. I simply kept that curtain closed. Her toilet training resumed and before long the diapers were gone for good.

With Butterfly's demeanor and focus improved a little at least, I started figuring out new ways to tell if she'd had anything she shouldn't. When she was a toddler, it was sometimes difficult to tell an ordinary kid tantrum from a reaction. So when her behaviour was out of whack, I'd pull out the easle and ask her to draw a picture ~ like a house for instance. If she was just being tempermental, this would distract her. And she was, thankfully at those times, easy to distract. But if it was a reaction, this picture wouldn't look anything like a house. Normally she would start with a basic shape, as she'd been taught. But in reaction there would be nothing on the page but scrawls and scribbles. Sometimes rather loud and violent scribbles. Then I knew for sure what I was dealing with. On the second day, the scribbles would be a little less frantic, and so on, until usually by the fourth day, the picture would resemble that house, or whatever. This told me that it took about four days for a toxin to leave her system. When she started learning to count, she could get to 11 at one point, but if she was in reaction, she wouldn't get past 3. This frustrated her, but spoke volumes to me. I made note of how a reaction impacted on her mental acuity, and I reviewed what she'd ingested, again.

The learning continued, for both of us.


  1. Wow. There are so many spheres in the world and so many things like this we take for granted. I know you probably did this too, but when I see some distracted parent in the supermarket (on the cell-phone most likely nowadays) reprimanding their kids for the most inane behaviors, I just want to scream at them how lucky they are to have "normal" kids who can actually accompany them to the market.

    We have had our fair share of reactions too, to food, meds, and illness (Goose reacts to strep and viruses with brain-stem swelling.) The test you are talking about with drawing is a FANTASTIC one, and actually the one our PANDAS doctor noted first thing. He requested she write her name, draw a person and a house and date the paper. After her treatment, when she was not in a flare, she did the same thing. It looks like a 2 yr old drew the one she did while in the flare. Amazing!

    Keep writing!

  2. Thanks Chickie Pea. I will. I was getting a little discouraged because I have no followers and I can't get a hit count on this without going beyond my tech ability to get there. But I'm going to keep going. I think I need to write it anyway. Please keep reading and commenting. Maybe exploring this will lead to something useful. :)

  3. If you need tech help, let me know. Maybe you can set your password to something you can share with me temporarily and I'll make hubby take a look for you ;)

  4. Thanks, I appreciate the offer. Might take you up on it at some point. :) I try to get Butterfly to help, but she's not a good teacher. ;o)

  5. Wow..I've never heard of the ball phobia thing. My daughter has quite the opposite reaction to a full moon...totally obsessed with it!

  6. She did get over it once her diet became more pure from things she reacted to, so I'm thinking it was more or less a chemically induced fear, probably from candy. I don't know for sure though. She no sooner got over one thing, than some new problem would pop up, so I didn't have a lot of opportunity to really figure it out. But she played softball as a little kid! Wasn't afraid to whack that sphere with a bat. And she did think bubble stuff was cool later on. ;o)