Tips For Potty Training Kids With Autism
Potty training is an activity of daily living, a developmental milestone, and a rite of passage. It often signifies the transition from being a toddler to becoming a preschooler. It is a real measure of independence.
Being toilet trained is often a requirement for school, summer camp and any child-centered drop-off program. Some children begin to show signs of being ready to toilet train between 18 and 24 months, but many children arent developmentally ready until the age of 3.
Parents and caregivers typically know that a child is showing some readiness when they have the physical skills to dress/undress and climb up to sit on a toilet, when they can stay dry for a few hours, or are interested in the potty or in peers that are toilet trained. For some neurotypical children, potty training can be a challenge, but it can be especially difficult for children with autism.
At the toddler and early preschool age, some children on the spectrum may not yet have a diagnosis of autism. They may be receiving Birth To Three or Early Intervention services for language delays or behavioral difficulties, but may not have been identified as a child with ASD, Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Many of the following tips and tricks in this article can benefit any family with a child struggling with potty training, not just those with autism diagnoses.
Know When Your Child Is Ready
For many neurotypical children, potty training happens around the age of three. According to BrightTots, an autism resources website, children on the spectrum often aren’t ready for toilet training until quite a bit later, sometimes closer to four or five years old. Since you can’t use your child’s age as a guideline for when to start potty training, look for the following signs of readiness:
Signs A Child With Autism Is Ready To Be Potty Trained
The following signs may indicate that the child is ready to be potty trained.
- The child has become aware of the need to go to the toilet.
- The child shows behavioral changes such as appearing upset, fidgety or distracted when they have peed or pooped their pants.
- The child informs you when they need a change of u
- The child is aware and conveys that they have finished peeing or pooping.
- The child begins to show interest in using the restroom without being prompted.
- The child shows improved bladder and bowel control by being able to avoid pee and poop accidents for one to two hours at a time every day.
- The child follows simple instructions, such as, Sit on the toilet seat.
- The child is able to pull their pants up and down.
- The child has a regular or predictable toilet schedule.
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Signs Autistic Children Are Ready For Potty Training
There is no set age for when a child on the autism spectrum is ready to start potting training as each child has their own needs and develops at their own pace. So, rather than focusing on the age of the child, it is generally best to take note of their skills and abilities as signs they might be ready for the challenge.
If your child is able to pull their underwear up and down without help, this is a good indication they have the motor skills needed for starting potty training. Also, take note of whether your child can sit upright without support and feels comfortable sitting on a potty.
If your child has shown interest in the toilet/bathrooms thats a great indicator the child is ready to start potty training!
Its also interesting to see some children dislike sitting in their own messif the child is trying to remove their diaper/nappy after filling it, you know a desire to be potty trained is already in place to some extent.
Exiting Yourself From The Visit To The Potty
In the beginning, you should be prompting them about the potty a lot, but as time goes on, you should reduce the way you prompt them. Once there has been a success on using the toilet in one week straight, this means there is a huge deal of independence coming up, and you need to start exiting yourself and your assistant slowly.
Remove yourself slowly by delaying the reminders you usually give to them that they need to use the toilet, and watch them closely if they have registered that you delayed and are trying to communicate with you that they need the toilet in a way like holding her skirt or his pants and looking at you, or standing and shaking a little.
When you have noticed something like this, please encourage them to use the correct communication method you have taught them. If they dont, take them to the toilet and try it again and again until they begin to use the right communication method.
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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
Rely On Potty Training Resources For Children With Autism
Even though the toilet training process for autistic children is similar to how it is when you are training a typical toddler for toileting, there are also some differences. Because of the complexity and severity of autism in many children, outside help is needed from therapists as parents and even their supports will need further assistance. There is also a recommended book to get that is helpful to parents of children with autism whether they are verbal or non-verbal called The Potty Journey.
This book will provide detailed steps on how to potty train the autistic child.
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Why Is Potty Training Difficult For Autistic Children
Children with autism may not be able to communicate to you that they need to use the restroom. Or they may have language, but they dont have the right language.
Pretty frustrating, right?
Imagine wanting to use the bathroom but not being able to say that you need to use the bathroom.
This is where something like visual cards or visual cues come in.
Even something as simple as teaching the sign for bathroom. For my daughter, thats what we used as well. We started with a visual schedule but I also taught her the sign. One of her classroom teachers later told me that my daughter was going up to her and using the sign before she had her communication device in place. So by giving her the language and means to communicate? She was able to express to any adult that she needed to use the bathroom.
Potty Training A Child With Autism Using Aba
Dr. Anna Kaplan is a writer and a licensed physician. She completed a 3-year residency and board certification in Family Practice and was in active practice for 15 years. A parent herself, Anna still remembers the “I know how to use the potty” song that her children sang.
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The Signs Of Readiness Is When To Start Potty Training The Child With Autism
What does it mean when the child with autism is ready? It means the same thing when you are wanting to potty train a typical toddler. The difference is that unfortunately, with children on the autism spectrum, they will be a lot older when they are ready to be trained. Depending on the severity of the condition, some autistic kids will be ready to be trained by the time they are 4 years old, and others wont be ready until they are 10 years old.
However, the signs of readiness to look out for in the autistic child are:
- The child is dry overnight and is dry up to 2 hours.
- The cognitive development of the child is equivalent to a typical toddler.
- Bowel movements are formed.
- There are no additional medical conditions that could get into the way of the training.
- The parents are prepared to begin as it will be a difficult journey.
- There are no major additional stressors at homes such as illness, divorce, death of a loved one, moving, or the birth of a baby.
If those signs that the child with autism is ready to be potty trained are there, then the process can begin. Lets now go further into the process.
Start Your Potty Party
To toilet train your child, have him or her sit on the toilet for as long as you can. Dr. Kroeger and her team literally spend all day in the bathroom, from the time the child wakes up until he goes to bed. Drinks, food, and playtime can all take place in the bathroom.
Sooner or later, during the course of the day, your child will urinate into the toilet. When he or she does do the deed, celebrate! Give your special motivators, toot horns, whatever it takes to show that you’re proud. Take a break, and then go right back to the toilet.
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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.
Tips For Taking Toilet Training On The Road
Once your child uses the toilet at home, it’s natural to assume he will use it in public restrooms or at other peoples’ homes. Unfortunately, children with autism can have trouble generalizing toilet training, especially right after learning. The lack of consistent routines and a different environment can easily throw them. In time, your child will be able to use other bathrooms. In the meantime, these tips can help:
- If you know you’ll be going out, pack a small bag with your child’s potty seat, potty books, and maybe even some of your home toilet paper. Keep as much consistency as you can.
- Prepare your child for the change ahead of time. Explain that the bathroom will be different in some ways but that the difference is okay.
- If your child is verbal, make a list together of the similarities and differences between this bathroom and your bathroom at home. Stress how the basic parts of the bathroom are the same.
- Stay with your child in the bathroom so you can offer reassurance throughout the process.
- Use the same reward you use at home, as well as extra praise for this new challenge.
- The sounds of public restrooms can be overwhelming, so consider using earmuffs to help.
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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:
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.
Toilet Training Your Child With Autism: Seven Tips For Parents
Training your child to use the toilet can be tough. It takes patience and time. But its an important part of helping him or her learn about the body and develop skills necessary for life. Its also needed to start school. Many pre-schools wont accept children who are not toilet trained.
There are many books and websites for new parents to help teach kids how to go potty. For a child with autism or other developmental disabilities, toilet training can be more difficult because of how they may perceive or react to the different sensations related to toileting. Additional difficulties can arise if there are communication challenges or if the child requires more time to learn a new skill. A parent can usually toilet train their child, but sometimes professional help is needed.
Here are seven tips to help toilet train your child with autism or another developmental disability:
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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.
Get Ready For A Potty Party
Put together all the things you’ll need to keep your child comfortable and content while seated on the toilet for a long time. If you like, consider bringing books, toys, and even a TV into the bathroom.
Make sure that the toilet is comfortable. For some children, that will mean wrapping the seat in towels for extra cushiness. Other children may be most comfortable on a potty seat with handles that help them feel secure while sitting on the toilet.
Collect “motivators”special treats to give your child when he successful urinates or poops in the toilet.
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Social Stories And Toilet Training
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.
How To Potty Train An Autistic Child With Visual Cards
Most children are typically potty trained by the age of 3 1/2, for children on the autism spectrum however, this may begin later. Even with the best visual printable resources available. Some individuals on the spectrum are never toilet trained fully. Heres how to start potty training an autistic child with visual cards. Want more parenting tips? Check out a moms guide on how to parent an autistic child.
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