How To Potty Train A Child With Autism

Potty training is one of the hardest and nastiest things all parents have to endure. Imagine cleaning poop, ewww. Training terrible two’s is already hard what more training your child with autism. This is a very tough job.
I’m glad my daughter is a quick learner though she picks up really quickly despite having some incidents before getting to the toilet, I should say I am proud of her accomplishment. She was trained 2 years ago but because I have to work most of the time her training stopped because her granny just tolerates whatever she does even if she has to pick up and clean those nasty poops.

Because children with autism learn slowly and erratically, it is critical that you teach them in a way they can grasp and appropriate for their chronological and developmental level. This means that the skills they should be taught are those that help them be functional and is an acceptable behaviour.

My main concern when I attended the seminar was to minimize her stimming and to toilet train her again. She is 6 and a girl too so I should be very very careful and teach her the skills she needs when she is an adult. Going to the toilet and asking to go is very very important.

Toilet training concerns

It must be emphasized that each child’s presentation of toileting problems will be different and each child’s program will need to be similarly individualized.

At the seminar we were told to bring the child to the toilet every after 15 minutes and ask her to sit on the toilet for 5 seconds. Most child with autism have difficulty sitting and staying at one place for more than 5 counts/seconds, so having them sit there for 5 seconds is an achievement already.

A parent or child caregiver will experience toileting delays that can be caused by one or combination of the following difficulties;

1) Behavior deficits :

a) resistance to being touch.
b) resistance to sitting or waiting when requested to do so.
c) resistance to having preferred activities being interrupted.
d) specific problems related to toileting like preference to specific inappropriate site, particular routines or inappropriate handling of urine and/or feces.

2) Maturation delays

Success with toilet training varies with age for all children.

3) Cognitive deficit

Children with intellectual delays to learn all skills including toilet training.

You should keep in mind that a child with autism has great difficulty in grasping immediately any information given especially when you want to work with them and be understood. When you want the child to do a task always keep things clear and short and explain why you are about to do such thing, why are they going to doing that and what are they going to do.

Be consistent in your toileting program and give them enough time to understand and get used to what you want them do. Be firm and consistent because a child with autism likes structure/pattern when you break the structure it confuses them.

Toilet Training Procedures

As I said earlier, take the child to the toilet at a regular interval. For beginners take them as often as possible. A fifteen minute interval after every visit to the toilet should be enough so they will be familiar with the place.

If the child will not resist sitting down on the toilet instruct him/her to do so even with his clothes on. Ask him to have him sit and tell him “weewee/poopoo here”. Praise the child for having sit on the toilet (it’s already an achievement for a child with autism, never miss an opportunity to reward or praise the child for even a small achievement it is.)

Have him/her pattern a sign for pee or poo and when you do toilet train try to make it appear as if he/she was the one asking to go to the toilet even if you are the one initiating them to go to the toile.

Next would be to make him/her pull down his/her underpants down if he/she is not used to this yet, help him/her out but tell her “ok weewee/poopoop pants down”. Then ask her/him to sit on the bowl and pee or poop. Again, don’t forget to praise/reward when they do the task.

Don’t forget to give her/him a reward after following any steps you ask him/her to do. Simple praise will do, like with my daughter a clap a smile and hug and praise gets her.

If the child is used to going to the toilet and sit on the toilet bowl, make him/her sit longer. For a child with autism having them sit longer in every visit is best so try to make him/her sit for 5 counts, then 10, then 15 then so on and on until she/he can actually have a pee/poo on the toilet.

It’s ok to have accidents even before you get to the toilet. When this happen still take him/her to the toilet and have the child pull his/her underpants down and reiterate “This is where you pee/poo”. Count for a couple of seconds then praise “very good peeing/pooing on the toilet.”

Respond non-emotionally as many autistic children enjoy and are reinforced by negative responses. Avoid using angry voice or giving the child eye contact when they did something you don’t like.

Reward them with the things they really like when they do what was told them, make it a big deal for them following the right thing.

My daughter likes Kitkat so after being successful at peeing/pooing and after washing I make sure she gets her reward as soon as possible. Never delay a reward to any achievement as possible have a reward ready all the time.

I am so proud of my daughter within a week of training she already grasp that when she feels like peeing or pooing she comes to me and ask to be escorted to the bathroom which is really really great, I feel wonderful.

How about you what’s your potty training experience?
If you haven’t done it yet will you try the techniques I told you in here?
Do share I would love to hear your stories.

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  1. This post was amazing! I was actually going to post about potty-training my two-year-old, but changed my mind. I admire you and your determination to teach your daughter. What a great mother you are and thank you so much for sharing this. I hope to see you again next week at Homemaker Mondays!

  2. Wish I could help but my kids and grand kids are all out of diapers. And my friend who has child with autism took 4 years to get him trained but at his age of 15 he will still go out in the front yard or other places and use the bathroom in front of people. She has not found a way to stop him.

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