Additional Tips For Potty Training A Child With Autism
- Focus on one step at a time. For example, teach eliminating before wiping, and wiping before flushing. Do your part and help out with the steps your child hasnt learned yet.
- If your child is a visual learner, consider using cue cards for each step.
- Put your child in underwear. If hes wearing underwear, hes more likely to feel wetness and be uncomfortable, which will motivate him to do something about it. Some parents choose to put a diaper over the underwear to make accidents less messy.
- If your child isnt going to the bathroom often enough, give him lots of water to encourage elimination.
- When potty training a child with Autism, it is important to keep everything as consistent as possible. Use the same timer and alarm sound. Keep the reinforcers consistent. Dont make sudden changes in the routine.
- Make it fun!
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.;
Get Your Bathroom Ready
Youre going to be spending a lot of time in the bathroom, so take some time to make it as inviting as possible. First, work to eliminate any sensory triggers. Something that youve never thought about, like a strong smelling soap or the cold tile floor, may be overwhelming for your child. Next, hang social stories on the wall as a reminder of what to do. Here is a social story for boys and heres one for girls. To make the bathroom extra special, you might hang pictures of their favorite characters or bring in their favorite books. When youre done, spend some time hanging out in the bathroom together to reinforce that it can be a positive experience. Below is an example of a potty training social story!
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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.
Toilet Training For Older Children
Toilet training the older child, adolescent, or adult with autism may be frustrating but achievable. As children get older, the social implications, isolation, physical demands, and hygiene issues become even more of a concern. As with young children, an assessment is important to identify patterns and to help set realistic goals for the individual with regard to teaching toward independence or to being able to follow a set toileting routine .
Strategies for older children include:
- Identifying the times that the young person typically eliminates
- Incorporating the pictures for toileting at these times in his visual schedule
- Concentrating on first developing the habit of using the toilet. Some may eventually understand the expectations and be aware of the need to eliminate.
- Using age-appropriate but comfortable and preferred clothing, materials, and rewards.
- Using a;First > Then strategy;to encourage following the toileting sequence to engage in a highly preferred activity afterward.
- Rewarding small successes as the older child learns this new habit to replace the well established habit of using diapers.
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Toilet Training Setbacks For Autistic Children: Tips
Setbacks are part of toilet training for all children. They can include behaviour problems, constipation and things going backwards.
Behaviour problems Sometimes autistic children who are toilet training can behave in challenging ways. For example, they might be afraid of the toilet, go in places other than the toilet, fill the toilet with paper and other materials, continually flush the toilet, smear poo on the wall and other places, and refuse to poo.
ConstipationConstipation is a common problem in children. If your child avoids doing poos, it might be constipation.
Constipation is usually caused by not enough water or other fluids or not enough dietary;fibre. Some autistic children are selective eaters, which can cause them to become constipated more easily than other children.
If you think your child is constipated, see your paediatrician or GP. They can rule out any underlying medical concerns, and help you with strategies to manage your childs constipation.
Things going backwardsSometimes childrens toilet training progress might stop or things might seem to go backwards.
Sometimes these issues might be related to things like stress, illness, constipation or diarrhoea. Your GP or other professionals working with your child can help you sort out these isssues.
How To Potty Train An Autistic Child
Potty training children in the autistic spectrum tend to be challenging for a variety of reasons: the presence of a developmental delay, a speech delay, fear of changing an established routine, fear of the unknown, loud sounds and anxiety in general.
Below you will find our step by step plan to lead your autistic child through their potty training journey:
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Make Sure Youre Ready
When youve determined that your child is ready to start potty training, make sure youre ready. This is a big step for both of you, so choose a time where stress will be minimized. If there are any big changes coming up, like starting a new routine or a close family member moving away, consider postponing potty training until things settle down.
At What Age Can A Child With Autism Be Potty Trained
There is no specific age to begin toilet training children on the autism spectrum because every child has different needs and different skills.
Instead of focusing on age, focus on the childs skills.;Below is a list of five questions that determine whether children with autism ready to start toilet training.
Is Your Child Ready
Before deciding to take the leap and potty train, you should get your child familiar with using the toilet.;Let your child come with you to the bathroom and show him what big boys and girls do.
Most kids are excited to learn about bathroom etiquette. Show them how the toilet flushing works and how to wash their hands. Look for;signs of readiness and excitement, such as your child telling you when he has to pee or poop; asking you to use the potty; feeling bothered by a dirty diaper.;
Does your child seem excited to use the potty?;The three-day method will only work if your child is on board.
Break Down The Process Into Stages And Dont Give Up
I discovered the key to toilet training an older child is patience, persistence, and breaking down the process into achievable goals. I wanted to give up when the fecal smearing was happening throughout the day for the first month. I was discouraged when the Power Cards didnt work. I combed the internet for some words of wisdom and found nothing. The key was going in stages and rewarding each stage, then raising the bar as those goals were achieved. Any habit can take weeks to break. Marc had been in diapers for nine years and I was kidding myself thinking toileting would not take several weeks, maybe even several months. It was also important to take the emphasis off of having a bowel movement into the toilet. Getting into the bathroom was the first thing that needed to happen. We had jumped too many steps, not realizing how hard this transition was going to be for Marc.
Even though toilet training Marc;was a challenge, it was worth it. He gained;a new level of independence and confidence. Marc was;so proud of himself. As parents, we were;relieved to have achieved this milestone, one that we are still celebrating nine years later.
Find The Root Of The Issue If Possible By Trial And Error
I realized there was much more to transitioning from diapers to the toilet. We had to discover what the root cause of the anxiety was. This is difficult to do when a child has very limited language skills. Was it having to sit down on toilet rather than stand? Was this a fear of having something fall away from Marcs body? Did he think he was losing a part of himself? Was he in physical pain sitting down trying to release a bowel movement? It was time to try another strategy.
I tried draping a towel across the toilet bowl so Marc would not have the feeling that something was falling away from him didnt work. We then changed the emphasis to just sitting on the toilet. We asked Marc to simply sit on the toilet and then rewarded him with chips if he did. During the toileting process, Marc was smearing his feces all over the house. He picked out just enough to relieve the bowel pressure.
Talk To Your Child About Menstruation
Now, many kids like mine are not exactly responsive but that doesnt mean she doesnt understand you or isnt listening. For example, Saturday night, I read a psalm to my daughter. She was stimming like crazy and Im not sure she heard much or even knew what book I was reading from. The next day in the church childcare area, she pulled down a dictionary and told the class to listen because she was reading from Psalms! Always talk to your kids at their age level, especially if you suspect they are at;their chronological age level with listening or learning skills.
As you talk, youll want to keep in mind the struggles she may have with fears. Is she reactive to the sight of blood? Then youll need to tell her what is going on with her body, how it will make her feel and that she will bleed and how she will need to take care of herself.
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Understanding Fecal Smearing And Other Toilet Training Issues
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.
Potty Training A Child With Sensory Issues
Angie is an experienced freelance writer and mother of two. She has extensive experience working in professional training, including the development and evaluation of training and exam material. She has a background in elementary education. Angie has a 4-year-old who still struggles with potty training, yet her 8-year-old nailed it by two years of age.
- A painful or overwhelming response to common sounds
- Bumping into things
- Difficulty playing with others or engaging in conversation
- Sensitivity to certain types of clothing
- Failure to respond to pain
- Difficulty tolerating change
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Tips To Begin Toilet Training Your Child With Autism
When a parent/caregiver is ready to begin the process of toilet training, its important to agree on some basic facets and make a plan:
1. Sit for Six
Make it a point to spend time sitting on the toilet or on a child-sized floor potty six times per day. It may start for only a few seconds, but increase time as you go use timers, distractions, rewards, etc. It may be short to start, but thats ok. Expect one longer sit when they would typically have a BM. If your child is successful using the toilet during that sit time reward the behavior and end that sit session and move on . All children should begin sitting both boys and girls. Boys can stand after they are successful with training for bowel movements.
2. Ask Dont Tell
Tell your child that it is time to try and sit on the toilet, do not ask if they have to go to the bathroom. Establishing a routine and setting the expectations will be important here, a child with autism will struggle with the sensory and communication skills to accurately report whether or not they need to use the toilet.
3. Make a Schedule
Make sure that youre attempting to use the toilet consistently around the same times per day. It could be around a clock hour, or integrated into a schedule such as upon awakening, before leaving for school, after recess, etc.
5. Keep Trying
6. Use Visual Supports
How Do We Start
I have written a more lengthy blog post on toiletting readiness and how to start here.Many children dont even know they are supposed to go into a bathroom to eliminate so start by just leading them by the hand into the bathroom every time they eliminate.
- Make sure all changing of diapers happen in the bathroom and not in another room.
- Do not allow other activities to go on during changing time and if you can, have your child help with the clean up.
- Have them shake the solid waste into the toilet from the diaper so that they learn where the poop is supposed to go.
- Have them help with wiping.
Some children do not understand how to release their bowels. Telling them to push can cause muscles to tighten. Try blowing bubbles while on the toilet or using a blow-type toy. The blowing action will help the diaphragm to relax and support release.
I also think you have to stop using all diapers in this process and go to underwear. Flipping back and forth leads to confusion. My son was very clever and would hold his bowel movement all day until he knew he was going to get the Pull-Up at night. As soon as the Pull-Up went on, the poop came out. We had accidents moving to underwear, but we had our son help shake all excess waste into the toilet and by the 5th week, he was ready to just sit on the toilet and go.
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Teaching A Child To Ask To Use The Bathroom
Whether children with autism are verbal or non-verbal, it is important to teach them how to communicate when they need to use the restroom.;Before the child enters the bathroom, prompt him/her to communicate that he/she needs to use the bathroom. There are many verbal and non-verbal ways to prompt children with autism to communicate that they need to use the toilet.;
Verbal- Prompt the child to say, Potty, or I want potty.
Sign- Prompt the child to sign the word Potty.
PECS- Use a Picture Exchange Communication System and have the potty icon readily available and prompt the child to get the potty icon and give it to an adult.;;
If the child spontaneously communicates Potty, honor it and immediately take him/her to the bathroom and reinforce the child for communicating the need to use the bathroom. ;;
What If My Child Likes To Play With The Toilet Water
Playing with toilet water means children with autism have a sensory need that isnt being met. Set up appropriate places in your house where your child can play with water, such as the sink, bathtub, or small pool outside. Deny access to the toilet by closing the bathroom door and putting a visual stop sign on the toilet. Children on the autism spectrum who play with the toilet water are not ready for potty training. Your child will not be ready until he/she learns the appropriate places to play with water.
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