Why "Running with Bunions"?

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Headaches, Tantrums and Tears

"Much of what I do begins with uncertainty."
-Autism therapist
Pain travels up the back of your neck, knifes your gray matter, saws at your skull. Your head throbs. You close your eyelids to squeeze out light and movement, cover your ears to minimize the effect of sound. You rub the tender muscles at the top of your spine and place warm palms over pulsating pain.
You have a headache.
You twist the childproof lid off a bottle and swallow three Advil. Sit. Hold your head. Eat chocolate. Wait for the quiet.
But. What if you were wrapped in a package that didn't recognize where the world ends and your body begins? If light was a whirling wave, sound a vibrating nightmare? And big body movements that settle everyday sensations now inexplicably cause your body to ache? What if you couldn't identify the location of discomfort or communicate the need for relief?
An everyday headache might roar unchecked through your body like an out of control train. Your skin, usually hungry for sensation, would throb and complain. You might cover your eyes, scream, flail. Push loved ones aside, slap walls, kick and sob, until your face was an explosion of blood vessels and coursing tears.
Behaving in a manner that looks as much like a tantrum as a body in pain.
According to the Mayo Clinic, headaches are generally caused by chemical activity in the brain, nerves or blood vessels in the skull, muscles in the head and neck. There are a multitude of reasons a person might get a headache. For example, exercise, stress, tension, tears, and (in our family) allergens. Most headaches are not life threatening.
Before a person with pre- and becoming-verbal autism can communicate the source of pain, he must first recognize that there is pain. He can then begin to associate words with the sensation. And obtain effective treatment.
When you love someone who can't tell you what's wrong, attending to his feeling-related needs can cause a heart wrenching quandary:

How do you teach a child "something hurts" without telling him something hurts since you don't know for sure that something hurts? What if he's actually sad? Mad? Hungry, thirsty, tired, wants his daddy?
What if the crying is "just" a tantrum?
Consider too: in autism, as with typically developing children, feeding a tantrum attention undesirably breeds…more tantrums.
Which can lead to headaches.
We help our child with autism discern pain-related feelings with words. When he injures his finger, for example, we say, "that hurts" and show him how to create and repeat the phrase using his talker. We acknowledge his anger. Identify body parts. Read aloud. We seek teachable moments all day, every day while working with therapists, teachers and loving, involved family members to create an environment that encourages language use.
What to do when, in spite of your best efforts, there are tantrums and tears anyway?
Sit. Hold your head. Eat chocolate. Wait for the quiet.
Then dust off your words and…try again.
Bedtime read aloud

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Wonder Boy and his Talker

Super Daddy accepts an AAC device from Theresa and Jim Edwards
and Sophie's Run.
Wonder Boy hurried to the end of the hallway. He smiled. He giggled. He jumped up and down and squealed. Super Daddy stepped into the corridor and waited.

Wonder Boy sped forward. He jumped, using his momentum to sail high into Super Daddy's arms.
Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) occurs anytime a person communicates without words. It's sign language. A written note. A nod, wink, grimace. It's a shaken head or pointed finger. AAC is a giggle, squeal or smile. AAC is also language facilitated by computers.
November 15, 2016, Super Daddy accepted an AAC device on behalf of Wonder Boy. The "talker" was a gift from Jim and Theresa Edwards and Sophie's Run, an organization founded to honor their daughter, Sophie Edwards, and provide Assistive Technology (AT) to individuals who need help communicating.
Sophie communicated with her eyes.
"…we found an eye gaze computer that Sophie could operate. It took months to locate the sources to fund the $17,000 device, only to have it delivered 1 week to the day after Sophie's funeral." http://www.runsophies5k.com/about_us

Some individuals don't understand facial expressions or body language. Talking is hard. Remembering doesn't come easy. When a person has difficulty processing words, a communication device can help.
"There are two types of aided systems—basic and high-tech. A pen and paper is a basic aided system. Pointing to letters, words, or pictures on a board is a basic aided system. Touching letters or pictures on a computer screen that speaks for you is a high-tech aided system." http://www.asha.org/public/speech/disorders/AAC/

Happily, in the beginning, there was Amy, who created Wonder Boy's first Picture Exchange Communication (PECS) book, a collection of photo tokens that helped Wonder Boy begin to express his needs and wants. Amy taught Wonder Boy and his family how to use the PECS system.

Wonder Boy continues to use his PECS book.
Soon after, Wonder Boy was enrolled in a highly rated school for special needs children, where his skills expanded. His tantrums and self injurious behaviors (SIBS) decreased as his ability to express himself grew.
Educators at his school recommended Wonder Boy to receive a communication device.
Today, Wonder Boy uses his talker at school to create grammatically complete sentences and other assignments. He uses it to identify needs and wants.
At home? We're still learning how to help Wonder Boy use the device effectively.
Wonder Boy hurried to the end of the hallway. He smiled. He giggled. He jumped up and down and squealed. Nonnie stepped into the corridor.
"No, no, no!" Wonder Boy exclaimed. He shook his head and frowned.
Using an ipad we demonstrated how to find the needed words. Wonder Boy independently copied the movements on his talker, pushed a button and the machine spoke.
Wonder Boy looked up. He smiled. He giggled. He jumped up and down and squealed. "I want Daddy," he said.
And then? He flew.

Sunday, December 10, 2017


Downstairs, Wonder Boy was engaged in therapy. Voices murmured, paper shuffled. Toys clattered.
Upstairs, the house was quiet. Christmas tree lights flickered. The refrigerator hummed.
Finished practicing piano, Amaze Girl worked her projects. Books, pencils, crayons, markers, pens. "Nonnie," she said, without looking up. "I love…" She paused. "…the way you love me. No matter what."
I do love this sweet girl. So. Much. Around the moon on a spoon. Now and forever. To the end of time and back again.
No matter what.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Transition in Autism and Divorce

Transition Be Like...
It's Transition Day! When the children return following a visit at their other home. Would they be fed and rested? Teeth brushed? Clean? What would they need to return to balance? Food? Sleep? Sensory squeeze? A bounce on the trampoline? In the words of Forrest Gump: "you never know what you're gonna get."
Transition…shatters the status quo…It's leaving any activity, especially when it's "preferred," for any other activity, preferred or not.
This day, the door opened and two happy people bounded in. Amaze Girl beamed. "We went to Dollar Tree!"
In autism – and divorce – the most stressful transitions are when children are transferred between two divergent homes. With adults who refuse to communicate, participate, cooperate. Whose parenting styles, in the words of one clinician, are "substantially different."
There may be exhaustion. Hunger. Loss of words and eye contact. Inability to focus. Crusty teeth. Tears, stims and Self Injurious Behaviors (SIBS). It can take two days to balance, feed and rest little bodies so work – growth, recovery, progress - might happen again.
Just in time for the next transition.
When an estranged parent chooses to be absent from the everyday, gives up the work of parenting to a partner and refuses communication with her co-parent, transitions are made yet more difficult. A child's ability to learn may be compromised. His growth inhibited. Her social and life experiences limited.
When parents don't work together? It's. Hard. On. The. Kids.
"…the relationship between the parents is a critical component to a child's proper development…" Judith Wallerstein, Second Chances: Men, Women and Children, a Decade After Divorce
(Read Judith Wallerstein's 25-year study, "The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce": http://fellowshipoftheparks.com/Documents%5CUnexpected_Legacy_of_Divorce.pdf)
It's not just about the kids. Adults who step away from parenting opportunities miss out too. Because love grows out of seeds planted in the smallest seeming moments.
  • Make smiley face pancakes for breakfast.
  • Write a note and tuck it into a homemade school lunch.
  • Drive her to school and/or pick her up at the end of the day.
  • Wait with her for the school bus to arrive when it's not your custodial day.
  • Attend the school musical, open house, class play, Halloween and/or Christmas party.
  • Visit for school lunch. Go to recess. Meet her teacher and friends.
  • Turn off the tv. Take him outside. Play.
  • Be present at transition. Speak to your co-parent.
Children crave attention from both parents all the time, every day, even-when-it's-not-your-weekend. Children love unconditionally no-matter-who-you-are-and-what-you've-done (or not done). They don't care whether you work or stay home, live in a big house or small apartment. They're not interested in the car you drive, clothes you wear or how great you look in that selfie.
They just want you. Present. Available. Grudge-free. In the big things. And the small moments.
Because sometimes all it takes to ease the stress of transition, keep a child's learning on track and make her happy? An outing to Dollar Tree.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

The Multigen Life

Multigenerational Living
Retiree (Snowbird): a northern tourist who vacations in the South during the winter.
The school bus rumbles up the hill. It passes so near the house that I can see every face in each window. My darling, tow headed, amazing granddaughter is wrapped in purple, blonde hair pulled back, front teeth missing. I wave and in the moment before the bus disappears, her face lights.

I wait in the yard as she flies down the hill, arms extended, laces floating, backpack flailing.
For some, retirement means escaping the winter snows by heading to California and Florida. Finally writing that book. Studying a language. Beachcombing, sports watching, feet kicked-backing. Exercising, reading, writing, cooking.
Others of retirement age? Add on as peers downsize. Meet school buses, oversee homework and piano lessons, volunteer at the Christmas Small Mall, help with class parties, attend musicals and field trips. Sift through teacher newsletters. Plan healthy, child-friendly meals. Do laundry. Lots of laundry.
"My Gramma Nonny is my Safe Side Adult because she loves me. And prets [protects] me. She feeds me. She helps me." Amaze Girl, age 6, 1st grade.
The US Census Bureau reports that nearly one in five Americans today live in multigenerational households – parents (and sometimes the parents' parents) synchronize lives to reside in communal harmony with adult children and their children.
There are many reasons adults and their children cohabit with older relatives. Economic concerns. Waiting longer to marry. The need to care for aging parents. A rise in divorce and never-marrieds.
And, sometimes, special circumstances. Like a family uniting to rescue children who've been hurt. A parent willing to delay independence to gift his children the best possible re-start to life despite the personal hardships presented by a grownup return to his childhood residence.
Yeah, sometimes multigenerational living happens because of that.

Multigen love
Multigenerational living is so prevalent that home builders offer options geared to the special needs of families and subfamilies as a matter of course: split living areas, multiple kitchens, linked bath spaces. And it's increasingly common for on-site grandparents to help raise their children's children.
"Are you FERPA'd?" Teacher, confirming that (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) paperwork was submitted so she's allowed to talk to me.
Sure, there's conflict. Chaos. Dirty bathrooms, cluttered kitchens. Persistent restructuring of responsibilities, contingencies and boundaries. Delayed plans and revised expectations.
But there's also compromise. Communication. Patience, purposeful unselfishness, kindness.
And? Bedtime stories, morning snuggles. Stealing a kiss when covering cold toes at 2am. The joy in helping a non-verbal grandchild find everyday words.
And there's satisfaction in being the one to get granddaughter laughing again when the flight from bus to home finally sends her tumbling head-over-toe.
Last summer I ran – and finished - three half marathons. This winter, I'm lumpy, gray and soft. In all the pillowy grandma places.
Wonder Boy pressed his body into mine. He squeezed my hand. I whispered, "I love you." He looked into my eyes and replied, "I love you too."
Multigen morning

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Death in the Family: Autism and Emotion

Beautiful afternoon at Leavenworth National Cemetery
Early on Halloween morning, 2017, Pop's little brother, Uncle-D, died. He was just 50 years old.
Uncle-D's death was sudden, unexpected and, for those who loved him, wrapped in emotion.
Individuals with autism typically crave structure and routine. Situations involving sudden change, quick transition and unknown faces are undesirable and incite negative response. For best results, introduction to new people, places and events require attention to the Three P's: patience, planning and preparation.
Preparing children with autism for unanticipated emotion belonging to other people? More complex.
A decision was made to protect Wonder Boy and Amaze Girl's routine from the turmoil surrounding the loss of Uncle-D. They would go to school. There would be piano practice, homework and therapy as usual. They would have dinner, bath and go to bed at expected times.
They would attend a weekend family gathering, but they would not attend Uncle-D's wake, services or burial.
Super Daddy missed nearly two days of work to be home with his children. Their favored, familiar aunt GAK met buses on funeral day. The children's favorite foods were prepared in advance.
The t's were crossed. The i's were dotted. Amaze Girl did fine. And yet.
All that week, Wonder Boy whined. He hit himself. He cried. He stopped requesting the bathroom. He had difficulty focusing on school or therapy. Although he ate and slept well, he appeared exhausted and out of sorts.
Were his troubles related to the transition between his two homes for Halloween? Did the chilly day zoo field trip wear him out? Was he distressed about an event at school or his other home that he couldn't express? Was he missing the routine provided by his usual caregiver? Was he sick?
Did he absorb the emotion of Uncle-D's passing in spite of efforts to protect the construction of his life?
Playing With Friends is Fun
Before a child with autism can conceptualize emotion in another person, he needs to understand it in himself. "Social stories" - a kind of rebus for life's events – and picture books are some of the tools used to teach children with special needs about holidays, field trips, changes to family structure, alterations to the expected routine – and emotion.
Here are some other ways Wonder Boy is learning to understand feelings:
In sweet moments together, while snuggling or hugging we say, "I love you." As he displays the emotion, Wonder Boy is encouraged to respond, "I love you too."
When he appears happy, frustrated, angry or sad he is prompted to identify his feelings using words or manipulatives. "I'm (happy/frustrated/angry/sad)."
When he needs his daddy or another loved one, we encourage him to express his desire out loud, "I want my daddy."
When he returns after being away, we say, "I missed you."
But the emotion surrounding a loved one's unexpected death? How do you help a child who's still learning to express the desire for a hug to comprehend that?
With luck, good health and a benevolent universe the answer won't be needed again anytime soon.
RIP Uncle-D
we love you

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Maternal No-Instinct

"…the notion of maternal instinct is a myth…"
Dr. Amy Blackstone

she has no idea what she's doing
Once upon a time I believed all women had the instinctive capacity to be fierce mama bears. Who would sacrifice honor, self-respect, livelihood; go hungry and die, if necessary, to protect baby.

But some women? Just. don't. have. it.

"For some women there is…no overwhelming urge to nurture and protect…" (The Guardian)

When a lioness is ready to give birth, she holes up alone in a cave or dense brush. Hormones coursing through her body, milk leaking from her teats, she delivers, feeds and protects her babies. Alone.

When the cubs are approximately 6 weeks old, mother and still-nursing babies return to the pride. Mom is ready to go back to the business of hunting! The cubs are absorbed into the family, which typically includes one lion and multiple lionesses, who share hunting, nursing and childcare duties - without concern for whose baby is whose.

Allomother: "an individual other than the biological mother of an offspring that performs the functions of a mother..." (Merriam Webster Dictionary)
new person clamoring for food

Like the lioness, a woman's body changes when she gives birth. Hormones alter her brain, rework her body. Her breasts fill with milk. Her uterus tightens. And there, at her feet, appears a tiny new person clamoring for food.

Mother's body signals her to feed it.

While some mothers handle the transition (and hormones) better than others, nature sets the stage during this sleepless, getting-to-know-you, new baby period for future connection. So that when mother's milk dries up and the baby-making hormones are gone, love, humility and a purposeful desire to nurture might take over.

"We're not born mothers; we become mothers." (wewomen.com)

A study conducted at Harvard Medical School indicates the presence of a gene called fosB may be one reason some women - and men – seem to be more instinctive caregivers than others.

The study involved a strain of mice that lacked the fosB gene. Without the gene, mice neglected their children. The babies died!

Both male and female mice injected with the gene transformed into vigilant, nurturing caregivers. (Baltimore Sun)

But mice aren't expected to "parent" their children. Mice don't educate, socialize or inoculate their babies. Mice don't lose custody for childhood neglect.

parenting without instinct: hard work, great reward
And neither instinct nor hormones guide a human mother to potty train her child, take her to well-child checkups, feed him fresh fruit and vegetables. Physical impulses don't press Mom to attend school music programs, open houses, field trips, Halloween parties, IEP meetings. Or remove children from harmful elements, like lead, once the danger is known.

With or without instinct, hormones, fosB or a pride of allomothers, human baby makers are expected to attend to the job of parenting. Sometimes that means enlisting help from friends, family and professionals. Communicating with an estranged partner. Putting your child's needs above your own.

Successful mothering takes selflessness. Humility. Persistence, perseverance, purposeful nurturing. A willingness to learn.

And humanity.

Unfortunately, some women? Just. don't. have. it.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Bewitching Good Times

Marching Scorpions
In the world of school, Halloween kicks off a busy season of parties, conferences, meetings, field trips, special programs, gift making and giving, decorating, extracurricular activities, celebrations, shopping, bills and...oh, yeah: schoolwork. Parental jobs. Rain, snow, cold.

Translation: this week's blog is short on words, long on pictures. You're welcome!

Pre Halloween party, Wonder Boy's class built Steve the Minecraft Guy out of boxes, tissue, construction paper and tape.
with Steve the Minecraft Guy

Wonder Boy wrote words for the hallway bulletin board.

Meanwhile, Amaze Girl's class? All school parade. Wonder Woman, Ninja Turtle, skeleton, hot dog, Captain Underpants!
Parade Time!

In an opportunistic display of family unity, support and forever love, Super Daddy, Nonnie and GAK soaked up the joy:
Happy Holidays!

More to Come...

Sunday, October 22, 2017

How to Grow Brain Cells (A True Story)

Neurogenesis (definition)
The birth of new brain cells

July 31, 2001 started like any other day for Canadian author Howard Engel. His things were in their places, his body moved in space, food had taste, his hearing worked. Then Howard opened the morning newspaper. The alphabet was there, but in unrecognizable configurations.
It seems Howard had suffered a stroke overnight, damaging the area in his brain that converts writing into language. This would be devastating news to anyone, but as Howard's living depended upon his ability to read and write, he was particularly motivated to find a solution.

Howard participated in therapy. Howard struggled. Over time, he discovered his brain could translate writing into language if he traced individual letters by hand. He started with pen and paper and advanced to tracing in the air. Howard then used his tongue to copy letters onto the roof of his mouth and finally, onto the back of his teeth.

Recovery was difficult. It took time and persistence. But in the end? Howard learned to read again…with his tongue.

Scientists once believed neurons were created exclusively in the womb. Then, in 1962, Joseph Altman injected adult rats with a radioactive, neuron identifying, molecule. When he examined the rats' brains Altman discovered new cells! Further study indicated neurogenesis occurs primarily in areas of the hippocampus responsible for memory and learning.

How to Grow Brain Cells:
Eat Well
Later research indicates "precursor" cells - neural cells still in development - may be independently blasted to affected areas of a newly injured brain.

Neurogenesis slows with age but the human brain is capable of regeneration throughout a person's life. The brain's ability to grow cells and establish new neural pathways is enhanced through cognitive enrichment like the study of language, music or nature and engaging in new experiences. Exercise and a preservative-free diet also stimulate cell growth.

Therapies that include language practice, repetitive effort and sensory experiences increase functional abilities of a person with autism. Is therapeutic success the result of new brain cells created? Or are new neural pathways forged through therapy?

Until the causes of autism are better understood it's difficult to pinpoint how or if the creation of new brain cells in a differently composed brain affects an individual's abilities over the long term.
How to Grow Brain Cells:
Read, Write, Play
What is known: activities that stimulate neuron growth involve the brain at work. Passive activities like tv watching and scrolling through a computer or phone do little more than enter data without contributing to the brain's revival.
Studies show that the best results occur when intervention begins early and is consistent, persistent and tenacious. Read, write, play piano. Bounce on a trampoline, hit a baseball, race around a track, climb a tree. Touch something soft, dance in the rain, swim in mud, ride a streetcar, pet a beetle, work a crossword puzzle. Eat protein and iron rich foods, consume raw veggies, avoid processed fare.
There are no guarantees but it appears that with time, endeavor and toil? It's possible that you, too, could one day read…with your tongue.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Dear Hair Stylist

He hollers nonsense phrases and shakes his head. A lollipop gets him into your stylist's chair but he won't let you snap an apron around his neck. His well-meaning sister flutters about the chair, tangling chords to tickle his knees. "Show him a video on your phone," she says, a cheerful reminder of a popular distraction.
Autism's characteristics are as unique to the individual as snowflakes differ one to another. One person may not mind a razor humming near his head but dislikes shiny scissor reflections. Another is okay with scissors but hates sprayed water. Some, like Wonder Boy, have a special need for transition - to be prepared for what comes next.
In this moment, however, you're most concerned about safely wielding sharp objects near the head and face of a moving target than picking up a lesson in autism. How can you gain control of the situation?
Here are five tips for enjoying a successful interaction with our child with autism:
Get to eye level. Hands at your side. Seek eye contact, but don't demand it.
2. WAIT.
Hold your body still. Smile. Put all of your attention on him. It may not look like it, but he's focused on you, decoding you, deciding about you. Let him take you in.
Does he seem more nervous about you or the equipment? Follow his caregiver's lead.
Do not reach for his hand. Do not touch his hair (yet). Do not try to hug him or pick him up.
Do let him touch you: hold out your hand, palm up. High five!
Keep conversation pertinent and to a minimum. Say, "this is the razor" and "it will tickle" and "it hums" or "it will buzz near your ears."
Don't ask questions, like, "how do you like school?" or "how old are you?" or "What's your favorite (fill-in-the-blank)? He's absorbed by the movement of people around him, mirrored reflections. He hears water spraying in sinks, radio static, clattering shoes, humming razors. He smells hairspray, mousse, perspiration. He's aware of his sister and distracted by your fingers on him. The expectation of a response adds to his overflowing sensory workload.
Let him touch the shiny scissors, gripped firmly in your hand. Hold the razor where he can see it. Turn it on and wait for him to absorb the sound it makes. Let him touch it, safely, if he wants to. Turn on the blow dryer; let him touch the moving air. Show him how the spray bottle works. Say, "This is water."
Once you've received the go ahead, begin! He's here for a haircut! Your anxiety and hesitation feed his anxiety and hesitation. The more calm, confident and efficient you are, the better the experience will be for everyone.
When necks and clothes are dusted and our child with autism has sped off, lollipop reward in hand…please won't you acknowledge his helpful, patient, kind, forever-upbeat sister-of-autism?
She's earned a lollipop too.
Sister of Autism

Saturday, October 7, 2017

First Comes Poop

Wonder Boy sobbed. He hit his head. His body shook as fat, wet drops spilled from quarter moon eyes and laced his flushed cheeks.

 "Do you want to eat?" No, I don't.
"Need a squeeze?" No, I don't.
"Potty?" No, no, no! Wonder Boy screamed. He shook his head and tears flew.
Super Daddy's voice was soft. "C'mon, Buddy," he said.
Wonder Boy rushed to the bathroom on bent knees. Alone inside, he sat. He pushed.
He delivered.
Refuse to participate. Rant. But, if you're human? If you eat? Eventually, poop happens.
Gastrointestinal issues are common in autism. Known causes include allergies to gluten or dairy, intestinal bacteria and neurological difficulties, in which the brain and body don't work together to recognize the physical urge to eliminate. Individuals also sometimes refuse all but a few foods causing nutritional shortages, learning concerns, constipation.
Eating programs claim to remedy both autism and its tummy troubles: gluten free, casein free, the special carbohydrate diet. To work, food-based solutions require strict adherence. It's critical that all involved participate, communicate, cooperate.
Until he was 5 years old, Wonder Boy's diet consisted primarily of pepperoni pizza, chicken nuggets and apple juice with Goldfish crackers and Skittles for snacks. Today at Super Daddy's house, Wonder Boy consumes a balanced diet of fruits and vegetables, meats, fish, eggs, cheese and breads. Raw spinach and turmeric rice are "preferred" foods. He drinks water.
But in autism, pooping – like learning - isn't just about what goes in.
Many people with autism have sensory sensitive bodies woven with tender, over-alert nerves. Their ears feel every cough, creak and rustle. Eyes burn in light, tongues taste smells, noses absorb texture. Skin alternately aches to be squeezed/screams to be left alone.
For a sensory sensitive individual, effective learning requires customized input, balanced to fit the body's unique protocols. Unexpected, uninvited touch or sudden bursts of sensory stimuli upset the status quo and disrupt the person's ability to function.
Pooping is a sensory activity involving pressing physical sensations, stretched body parts, unique sights, sounds and odors. There's residual removal (wiping), toilet roars (flushing), wet, squishy hand washing.
Postponing bowel movements and the tasks that follow enhances the inevitability of the experience while creating a potentially unfortunate cycle of unhappiness and distress; release and relief.
Wonder Boy got a late start. Potty training efforts didn't begin until he was 5 years old. With help, he quickly learned to urinate in the toilet.
Gaining his cooperation concerning bowel movements? It's complicated.
When he hasn't eaten well or yielded to necessary elimination, Wonder Boy loses eye contact and words, melts into tantrums, retreats from learning.
When he's eaten well and succumbed regularly to his body's need to poop, Wonder Boy's mood is balanced. He sleeps. He uses his words, copes with transition, learns.
This day, after utilizing the facilities, Wonder Boy independently cleaned himself, flushed, washed his hands. He opened the door. "I want banana please?"
Super Daddy extended his hand, palm out. Wonder Boy slapped it. High five!
Then comes eating

New reader? Start here: Poisoned By Lead