Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Can Autistic Child Be Potty Trained

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How to Potty Train A Child with Autism

If you’re anxious to have you child out of diapers, potty training can seem like a long journey. It’s not unusual for the process to take a year or more for children with autism. However, in many cases, when the child does become trained, the transition can happen almost overnight. Often, there are very few accidents after the child begins using the toilet. This is one area where ASD can actually work in your favor. No matter how long it takes, keep working and try to be patient. You’ll get there.

Why Are There Toileting Difficulties

I believe there are two main problems in toileting difficulties.

  • The first one is eating a limited diet and low fluid intake. A diet that is low in fiber can cause constipation, but the biggest concern is fluid intake. If a person is dehydrated, colonic motility slows down so that more water can be absorbed. This results in not only a decreased number of bowel movements, but also stools that are harder, more dense, and drier .
  • The other problem is interoceptive awareness. Receptors located throughout the inside or our body, in our organs, muscles, skin, bones gather information from the inside of our body and send it to brain. People with autism tend to have impairment in this area. This means the signal of a full bladder or needing to eliminate does not reach the brain so there is no impetus to get to the toilet or the sensation of needing to go is felt too late .
  • I have also heard of individuals who do not understand that different types of toilets are all toilets and you do the same thing in them. This may need to be taught if the toilet at school is very different from the toilet at home .

    Encourage Your Child To Ask For The Potty

    In the beginning, you will probably need to take your child to the bathroom before he asks to go. Asking to go requires a certain level of functional communication that may be challenging for your child. However, if you notice any type of bathroom request, even if it doesn’t produce the desired result, reward your child right away. To encourage your child to ask, decide on a signal or word that you’ll use every time you take your child to the bathroom. Your child may use this word to communicate with you.

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    Tips To Help Potty Train A Child With Autism

    As with everything involved with autism, there isn’t a set approach that will promise potty training results every time. Each child is different and will require a slightly different process. However, the following tips apply to most children on the spectrum and can help you make this process as simple and successful as possible.

    What Are The Signs That A Child With Autism Is Ready To Be Potty Trained

    Successful Toilet Training for Kids with Autism

    When children with autism are ready for toilet training, they will begin to demonstrate the Three Signs of Readiness listed below:

  • They do not like the feeling of a wet or soiled diaper or pull-up and will show it by taking off the wet or soiled diaper/pull-up, and they vocalize displeasure in being wet of soiled and want to be changed.
  • They show interest in the toilet by sitting on it, flushing it, or watching an adult use it
  • They will take an adult to the bathroom to get a clean diaper or pull-up
  • Also Check: Good Doctor Autism

    Potty Training A Child With Autism

    Children with autism are often extremely attached to their long-established routines. A transition from being in a diaper to using a toilet is a major change that, combined with communication challenges, can be very difficult for an autistic child.

    Thats why toilet training your child with autism may take a long time and require a lot of patience. This guide will provide you with some tools and tips to make the potty training of your autistic child easier.

    What If My Child Is Afraid Of The Toilet And Doesnt Want To Sit On Or Go Near It

    If your child is afraid of the toilet, start the training by using a transitional potty. Have the child sit on the potty outside the bathroom and slowly transition it into the bathroom. Alternatively, your child may accept to sit on the toilet with the seat down or with clothes on. Gradually, have the child sit on the toilet with the seat up on a training seat.

    Recommended Reading: Broader Autistic Phenotype

    A Parent’s Guide To Toilet Training A Child With Autism

    Toilet training can be a challenging process for any parent. It can be even more difficult for parents of children with autism spectrum disorder . Not only can potty training be difficult for the parent, but it can also be difficult for the child, as well. This guide will help you, as a parent of a child with ASD, to potty train your child in a way that will be less stressful and more successful for you and your child.

    Make Sure Your Child Is Ready


    When assessing whether or not your child with autism is ready for potty training, behavior is more of an indicator than age. Your child may be ready if they ask to be changed when theyre wet or soiled either verbally, by removing a dirty diaper or by getting a clean diaper. You also want to make sure your child can follow simple, one-step directions before you tackle potty training.If your child is nonverbal, there are some extra steps you can take to ensure clear communication. Keep an eye on your childs behavior as you start to potty train so you can pick up on their signals that they need to go to the bathroom. You may notice them wiggling, rocking or looking intently at you or in the direction of the bathroom. To encourage communication, you may give your child a picture of a toilet that they can point to when they need to go. They can keep it in their pocket or attached to their clothing for easy access.

    Read Also: High Functioning Autism Vs Low Functioning Autism

    When To Start Potty Training

    Before you decide to start potty training your autistic childs potty training, it is better to consult a pediatrician who can warn you of possible complications that may arise and suggest when to start training.

    Also, you can observe your kid to figure out if they are ready for the training. Here are some signs you can look for:

  • They let you know when they have peed or pooped in their nappy or clothes. They may tell you verbally or express through a sign or gesture.
  • They are able to follow easy instructions, so if you tell them to sit on the toilet, they can.
  • They can pull down and pull up their pants.
  • They have a regular and almost routined bowel movement.
  • They have enough control over their bladder to not pee or poop for at least one hour at a time during the day.
  • Preparing your child for potty training in general would also be a good idea. Here, the procedures are almost the same as it is with the average children. It may require just a little more time and tricks.

    How successfully you manage to communicate with your child and how interestingly you can initiate the process will decide how well and fast they are going to learn. You can start with steps as simple as introducing your kid to the toilet, such as its purpose and how to use it.

    Remember to take it one step at a time rather than doing everything at once. The whole procedure is going to take time. Keep your patience up, and once your child becomes familiar with the toilet, gradually start further training.

    Try A Variety Of Approaches Dont Get Discouraged

    My husband and I had tried various methods over the past 3 years. We used picture symbols breaking down the process of toileting on a Velcro strip. We kept a bowel movement chart for 3 weeks so we could see what time of the day Marc tended to have his bowel movement, and then we sat him on the toilet for those times. We created a social story for toileting. When none of those methods worked, we used a behavioural contingency plan with photos of Marc sitting on the toilet, a photo of broken pieces of Oh Henry bar in the toilet, and a photo of his reward ripple chips. If he didnt poop in the toilet , then there would be no chips. None of these methods worked.

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    Right Age To Potty Train Children With Autism

    While some children with ASD show readiness to be potty trained at the same time as other children, delays are common.

    The age at which any child is fully potty trained varies widely even in neurotypical children. The answer here will depend on where your child falls on the spectrum, their communication skills, the extent of any existing sensory challenges, and if there are any significant gross motor delays, explains , a potty training coach certified by the Institute of Pediatric Sleep and Parenting in both Potty Training and Special Needs and the founder of Mother Together.

    There is no identified perfect age to potty train children with autism. Children usually show signs of potty training readiness by the age of two to three years. However, children with autism and other conditions may take longer to be potty-training ready based on the severity and symptoms of their condition.

    Be Sensitive To Fears

    Autistic Childs Speaking Potential and Toilet Training ...

    Most parents and teachers who work with children on the autism spectrum are no strangers to irrational fears and meltdowns. Unfortunately, the bathroom and all of the association equipment, noises, and sensations can trigger these reactions in your child. Common concerns include the noise of flushing, fear of a toilet overflowing, and dislike of the echo in the bathroom. Supervise your child in the bathroom and be available to help if he becomes frightened. The child may need to leave the bathroom and then slowly work back up to sitting on or flushing the toilet.

    Recommended Reading: Stage 3 Autism

    Autism And Potty Training Issues: 3 Reasons You May Be Hitting A Roadblock

    When meeting with parents of young children with autism, one of the most common questions that come up, is how can I potty train my child?. There are many reasons why children with autism experience potty training issues. Identifying these issues can help parents know how and when to start with the toilet training process. Because of some of the unique characteristics related to autism, some children may need extra supports and strategies to assist with the potty training process. This 3 part blog series will help guide parents and educators through the process!

    Tip #1: Your Child or Student Is Not Showing Readiness Signs

    Tip #2: Your Child Or Student Experiences Sensory Differences

    Tip #3: Your Child Or Student Has A Language Delay

    Receptive and expressive language delays can make it difficult for autistic children to understand directions related to toilet training, as well as express their need to use the bathroom. This is where visual supports can be very useful. Visuals can help the child understand what you are asking them to do and can help organize the sequence of steps. If your student or child is not yet speaking , it is important to pair the picture of the bathroom with your words when you tell the child that it is time to go to the bathroom. By doing this, and having that picture readily available, your child or student may start to use the picture to communicate the need to use the toilet!

    Quick steps to get started:

    Why Is Potty Training Such A Challenge

    When you think about the requirements for potty training and the inherent deficits present in the typical symptomology of autism, the conflicts can be obvious.

    Children with autism may struggle with the social skills to get an adults attention to let them know that they need to toilet. They often have limitations around language to communicate such needs, as well as the receptive skills to understand and follow directives when an adult is trying to help.

    We know that individuals with autism thrive on routine, and have an intense need for sameness so the shift from wearing diapers to underwear, and using the bathroom can be huge.

    Teaching any new routine is a task that requires a multi-sensory, well-planned, team-based approach. Toileting training may not happen overnight, for children with autism, it can be a lengthy process. The consistency amongst environments will be important too toileting needs happen everywhere, so flexibility around what toilet you use and where that toilet is located is crucial.

    Children with autism often have fine and gross motor challenges so the physical skills to dress and undress, and to climb up and balance on a toilet seat, must be considered. The dexterity to manipulate fasteners like buttons, zippers, and snaps can be difficult. The body awareness and upper extremity control to manage pants around the hips can be tricky as well.

    Read Also: Autistic Life Expectancy

    Developing A Toileting Routine

    Remember that independent toileting is the ultimate aim and may take many months but there will be many small steps and successes along the way. As well as physical factors associated with toilet training, there are social factors to consider. It is rare for an autisticchild to have the social motivation to want to be like mummy/daddy/friend and use the toilet. After using nappies for a number of years, your child might not see the point in starting to use the toilet. It’s important to remember that all children are different and they will not all respond to the same teaching techniques.

    Children on the autism spectrum often like routine. You can build upon this desire for predictability to develop a successful toilet training routine.

    Social Stories And Toilet Training

    Autism & Potty Training! Why Your Child Struggles & How To Master It! With Expert OT Insight!!

    Social stories can help autistic children cope with challenging or confusing situations like toilet training.

    Experienced speech pathologists, occupational therapists and early intervention or school teachers will be able to help you create a social story for your childs toilet training.

    If your child will be going to the toilet at a friends home or somewhere else other than home, practise a new story for this situation with your child ahead of time. When the event happens, the story can help your child know what to do.

    When youre writing a social story, use words and pictures that your child can understand. Suggest possible responses and behaviour, rather than making the story an exact script to follow.

    Recommended Reading: The Good Doctor And Autism

    Keep An Eye On The Childs Cues

    When the child becomes more aware of their need to pee or poop, they may begin to exhibit more apparent signs of their need to use the restroom. An increase in rocking, holding oneself, increased vocalizations, or other signs may be cues that the child needs to use the restroom. Children may also show signs such as looking at you or the bathroom when they want to pee.

    Parents, caregivers, and teachers should keep a vigilant eye on these signs and encourage the child to continue with their chosen way of communicating their need to use the bathroom. Let them choose their mode of communication-visual aid, speech device, or pointing their fingers.

    Be Sure Your Child Is Healthy

    Many children with autism have gastrointestinal issues. And, of course, if your child is suffering from diarrhea, constipation, bloating, or other gastrointestinal issues, it may be tough for him to toilet train.

    If your child seems to gastrointestinal problems, check them out before you start toilet training. Signs of GI problems can include unusual crankiness, positioning to press on the abdomen, reluctance to use the toilet or poop, or inability to evacuate. See your pediatrician and, if necessary, a pediatric gastroenterologist. It may even be possible to treat constipation with something as simple as prune juice.

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    Schools And Early Years Settings

    Admission to school should not be refused simply because a child has difficulties with continence. A school that does this may be at risk ofdisability discrimination. If you have any concerns about your child not being admitted into an establishment because of their needs or their continence needs are not being met at school, our Education Rights Service may be able to help.

    Understanding Fecal Smearing And Other Toilet Training Issues

    Is Your Child Ready for Preschool?

    What helped me the most mentally was understanding why the fecal smearing was happening. This is a misunderstood behavior and one that tends to be the most upsetting. When a child withholds their stool, it becomes harder in consistency as the days go on leading to constipation. Constipation can cause an itchy anus which then leads to picking to relieve the itchiness and pressure. I believe this why our son was picking because of the itch and by removing some fecal matter, he could relieve some pressure which allowed him to continue to hold in his stool.

    My daughter was quite different. She used to eliminate on the carpet without warning. When she was 6, I told her if she went to the bathroom in the toilet, she could have some Smarties. She replied, OK and the process was done in one day. I will never know why she was so easy and my son was not however, my daughters cognitive functioning is higher than my sons. Both were very late talkers just before their 5th birthday and missed most developmental milestones.

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