Toilet Training – 20+ suggestions for the child with ASD

  1. As soon as the child is able to balance independently in sitting, make sitting on the toilet part of the everyday routine.  I mean way before potty training.  Start with a closed lid.  I.e. During the morning routine, the child sits on the toilet as you change their pants.  Repeat in the evening.  As greater sitting skills are attained, change it up. Sit with the lid closed and/or on a toilet ring.  Do not expect the child to urinate this is sitting practice.  No time limit needed.
  2. The more information the child has about potty training, the better their understanding of the processes
    1. Have the child watch u-tube and toilet training videos
    2. Read toddler toileting books
    3. Have the child watch you and significant others use the toilet
    4. Yes, let them see your poo and pee
    5. Let them know that commercials are when their favorite TV characters are using the bathroom
    6. Have the child train a doll that can be fed and wets.  Boys can train girl dolls.
  3. Teach the vocabulary you are going to use
    1. The concept of wet and dry.  I.e. your hands are wet, your swim suite is dry.
    2. Pee, Poo, Urine, BM – use what you are comfortable with shouting in a room full of friends
    3. Pee and Poo in the diaper/ underwear in not an accident.  A car wreck is an accident. Find a different word.  Example-You just put your pee in your underwear.  Where does it belong?
  4. Teach the child that Pee and Poo belong in the restroom.  Do this by moving all supplies and changing in the restroom. When possible, dump the poo in the toilet and let the child watch it spiral down the hole.
  5. Schedule In equals Scheduled Out.  A child that eats and drinks all day; with snacking and drinking at their request will be difficult to potty train.
  6. A child needs to feel secure on the toilet and they need the feet supported.  It is very hard to push out the poo without the feet supported
  7. Know your child’s schedule.
    1. A child that is constantly wet is not ready to potty train.  Waiting until the child is dry for 1-2 hours between changes will make training easier.
    2. If your child is not dry for one hour between changes and is older than 3 years, talk to your child’s physician about their level of dryness.
    3. Humans typically make more urine and thus use the bathroom more in the morning vs in the evenings.
    4. A child that is constipated or to loose is hard to train.  Figure out why he or she is constipated/loose.  Take care of medical problems prior to toilet training.
    5. Most boys are not ready to train until between 3 and 4 years of age.
    6. Know the family history.  A family history of bed wetting is important to discuss with your child’s physician.
    7. A child that needs intense structure in their life will not change the toileting routine easily. If you plan on using a toddler toilet, be ready to have one in your car.  If you buy a cool character toddler toilet, hope you can find one in a year to replace the broke one.  Remember, train the sequence you expect a year from now.
  8. Toilet Training is more than just using the toilet.
    1. Have the child walk to and from the bathroom to change the diaper.
    2. Have the child practice pulling pants up and down.
    3. Have the child practice washing their own hands.
    4. Have the child practice the routine you will expect i.e. turn on light, pants up/down, wash hands, close the door. The more that can do prior to the training days the easier the training
  9. Practice First and Then.  First you put the 4 toys the bucket and then you get to go to the park.  Toilet training will be hard work .  If the child will not  “Put In” to attain a preferred task/toy then they might not be ready for toilet training
  10. Educate yourself.  Read, Read, Read. Talk with your child’s teachers. The more you understand the process, the easier it will be for all involved
  11. If the child is afraid of the toilet, then it is ok for them then to use the pull up.  They will however need to use the pull up in the bathroom.  I.e. the child goes to the restroom, puts on their own pull-up and completes their business.  They can stand or sit as they are comfortable.
  12. Kids that have low tone, are sensory avoiders or sensory seekers feel things differently. Know how your child responds to touch.  Understand their level of skin awareness.  Use this in developing the toilet training plan
  13. A child that thrives on structure and routine will be very distressed when you start toilet training.  The longer you wait, the more distress they will have. In saying this, remember routine is very important.  Do not keep changing your toileting plan.  Implement, determine the child’s level of success at that time. Take a break at that level.  Wait 3-6 months and try again
  14. You will need a variety of rewards.  Hide the rewards for one week prior to training. This makes them more exciting.  You will need something to encourage them to sit on the toilet.  You will need rewards for using the toilet.  Think of more than one reward
  15. Make going to the toilet fun. Do they want to be carried upside down, like an airplane, jump like a frog.  Make getting to the toilet fun.
  16. Before you begin stock up on Coffee Filters.  Place them in the kid potty. They make great targets for little boys and the poo falls right out.
  17. Boys should toilet train in the sitting position.  They can learn to stand later.
  18. Practice how much toilet paper the child should use.  If the toilet paper dispenser is on the wall, place a mark on the walk indicating how far down the child is to pull the toilet paper.
  19. Do not expect your child to tell you they need to go.  Train with structured toileting beaks in their lives.  I.e. everyone sits on the toilet prior to getting in a car, everyone sits on the toilet prior to eating, and everyone sits on the toilet 30 min after eating.  And everyone sits on the toilet when they get up and as part of the night time routine.
  20. When you think you and your child are ready, intense training is the best path.  Set a date. Make a plan.  Stick to the plan.
  21. Once you have a plan, set a date.  Plan on intense training for at least three days.  Then determine if additional days will make additional gains or just get everyone more stressed.  If additional training is warranted, train for an additional three days and again, review progress and stress level.  Intense training takes 3-5 days.  Plan on at least an additional 4 weeks to achieve some level of independence.  Remember it make take a year past this for the child to understand their body and indicate the need to go.
  22. Changing the technique in the middle of training will only confuse the child and you.  If the plan needs changing, you need to take a break.  Re-organize. Gather additional Information. And then repeat the intense training.
  23. Toss the soiled underwear.  Cleaning soiled underwear is a major stressor.  Toss it.  Shopping is a reward.  You will need a reward after toilet training.
  24. Shaming the child into using the toilet will seldom work. Do not promise or bribe unless you can follow through.  Telling your child they cannot go to school until they are in underwear is setting them and us up for failure.  Only babies’ poo in their pants in like telling a person that is blind they could see if they wanted to.  Kids with sensory processing, low tone and learning challenges need help understanding the processes not shame due to their bodily differences.

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