I got another insight tonight. Background: Boo was very hard to potty train! In fact, I was concerned that it might not happen in time for him to begin school last fall. He still refuses to even attempt bowel movements in the toilet. And although he does urinate in the toilet, he doesn't like it. He holds it for amazingly long periods of time, to the point that it concerns us. He also has an extreme terror of public bathrooms. We have discovered that at some times, on good days, we can convince him to go inside a public bathroom and "potty in a cup." Any cup will do, as long as he isn't asked to use the public toilet. I have noticed that the toilet seats that are split in front, not complete rings, bother him the most. In fact, one look at them will usually cause an instant screaming fit. He also has expressed some anxiety about loud flushes.
This brings me to another of Boo's sensory issues. Loud noise. He has a love/hate relationship with loud noise. Some times he loves it, seeks it, creates it. Sometimes it really seems to bother him. He seems to have trouble filtering the relevant sounds out of the background noise, especially in very noisy places like public crowds. He will seem to not even hear me at all, no matter how loudly I call to him. This coupled with his refusal to hold hands (another sensory issue) has caused some difficult moments, to say the least. When he was little, he loved his jack-in-the-box, but he was afraid of the moment that it "popped." He would run out of the room as far away as he could when it was about to pop out of the box. After it was up, he would happily return. He has always hated the vacuum cleaner, usually running to his room and closing the door when I vacuum the carpet. When he plays games on the computer he will sometimes run around the corner to the next room when he encounters a very noisy part of a game. But he will return to play the same game again and again, running away for the noisy part each time.
Today we barely got Boo into a public bathroom at the zoo. He did not like being in there at all. He barely consented to stay in the stall long enough for me to use it. I knew he hadn't gone to the bathroom in several hours and didn't want him to keep holding it much longer. I didn't have a cup with me today, so I offered him one of our water bottles. He agreed to that, and suddenly pulled his pants down in such a way that I knew he was really feeling the need! He used the bottle happily and we got back on our way to the animal exhibits.
We spent quite a bit more time at the zoo after that, then went to McDonald's for lunch, and then Boo fell asleep on the way home. He ended up sleeping about five hours! Holy cow! Even after he woke, he didn't go, didn't go, didn't go. Finally, after it had been around 8 hours since our trip to the bathroom at the zoo, I insisted he go. This began an epic fit. He flat refused, said he didn't need to go, he didn't want to go, screamed, cried, begged. I kept asking him "why" and he could only answer that he didn't want to, or didn't need to. I ended up sitting on the bathroom floor with Boo in my lap, squeezing him in a tight hug and rocking side to side. It dawned on me to ask "what would happen if you did potty?" His answer? "It would be too loud!" Heaven's sake! I had no idea that he was bothered by the sound of using the toilet! I offered him a cup, something that we have never done at home, and he happily filled it, then went on to the next activity. Go figure.