Toilet Training the Kids With Autism Spectrum Disorder
- When to Toilet Train an Autistic Child?
- How to Prepare the Autistic Children for Potty or Toilet Training?
- How to Toilet Train Autistic Kids?
- How to Toilet Train Nonverbal Kids With Autism?
- Tips to Overcome Toilet Training Challenges of Children With Autism
- Additional Tips to Make Toilet Training a Success
Toilet training can be a daunting task for the parents, and when it comes to potty training or toilet training a child with autism, it can get more taxing for the parents. However, there are some measures and tips that you can take to make the training an easier and more comfortable experience for your child and you. Read on to learn unique ways of toilet training kids with autism disorder and how to overcome their fears.
When to Toilet Train an Autistic Child?
The first and foremost step when you plan to potty train an autistic child is to look for signs of readiness. Here are some signs that you should look for in your child:
- There are no medical reasons that may interfere with the child’s training.
- The child is approximately four years old and with no medical condition that may hamper the training.
- The child has regularly formed bowel movements.
- The child has become aware of the need to go to the toilet.
- The child stays dry most of the night.
- The child fidgets or gets uncomfortable when peeing or soiling the diaper or pants.
- The child has reached the cognitive age of 18 to 24 months.
- There is no added stress at home, such as a change of place, major illness, divorce, death, etc.
You can manage toilet training or autism bowel movements if your child exhibits some of the above-mentioned signs.
How to Prepare the Autistic Children for Potty or Toilet Training?
Preparing the autistic child for potty training or toilet training is more or less similar to training a normally developing child. However, for a child with ASD or autism spectrum disorder, the parents will require some strategies, or they may be required to put in more effort according to the needs and requirements of their child. The most important thing to remember is that communication with the child and being on the same page as your child for the success of the training. Take one day at a time, which means making smaller goals and trying and achieving them rather than aiming at bigger unachievable goals. To begin with, you can start talking to your child about going to the toilet and familiarising him with the concept of toilet training.
How to Toilet Train Autistic Kids?
Here are some toilet training strategies that you can adopt:
It is important to start talking to your child about toilet training. No, we are talking about making elaborate explanations or commands. You can start by giving visual signs or prompts, and these can further be assisted with direct language. Keep the communication simple by saying “time for poo-poo” rather than making any elaborate statements or conversations.
2. Refrain From Fussing Over Accidents
Accidents are bound to happen, and all you need to do is not fuss over it or make a big deal of it by showing anger, teasing, cajoling, or even discussing it with your child. Leave the discussion and talking for the time when your child shows signs of readiness.
3. Get Your Child In Underpants
Though most parents may feel intimidated by the mere thought of shifting to underpants without proper toilet training, however, it is important to understand that it is an important part of training. The modern-day diapers are so good that the child does not even realize that he has urinated. Whereas shifting to underpants will make him realize when he pees or soils himself, and thus the child may feel the need to change.
4. Social Stories
One of the most effective ways of toilet training autistic children with social stories. This strategy aims at developing behaviour and responses that may help children cope with confusing or challenging situations. There are trained professionals that may help in making social stories for your child for toilet training.
5. Rewards and Encouragement
There are no better learning strategies than praising and encouraging your child for his efforts. Words like “well-done baby” and non-verbal actions, such as thumbs up or high five, are great ways of enforcing a good toilet training routine in your child.
How to Toilet Train Nonverbal Kids With Autism?
If you think it will be tedious to train nonverbal kids with autism or how to potty train a nonverbal autistic child, well, most parents may struggle with it because such children do not show usual signs when they may want to go to the toilet like other children. However, taking the following measures may help:
- Using visual support, such as pictures or other visual aids, may prove to be helpful.
- Being direct and crisp in asking children with nonverbal autism may prove to be helpful. Instead of asking too many questions, you can simply ask a direct question – whether or not he needs to go to the washroom or not.
- Help your child to communicate by using visual support, such as showing a picture of the toilet seat.
- Try and know the signs as sometimes the child may not say or do anything but still will be letting you know that he needs to go to the toilet. For example, he may look at you and then towards the toilet. Try and understand the hints.
Tips to Overcome Toilet Training Challenges of Children With Autism
If you are wondering can autistic toddlers be potty trained or how to toilet train autistic girl or toilet train autistic boy, well, here are some tips that may help you overcome the potty training challenges of children with autism:
- Pick one word or phrase whenever you want your child to go to the toilet. You can also ask the other family members to do the same.
- In case you feel your child is experiencing any difficulty with the potty training stage, skip it for a while and try again when your child feels comfortable.
- Use clearer instructions and language to make your child understand what you want him to do rather than making ambiguous statements. This may help a great deal for potty training autistic 4-year-old or younger children.
- Using reusable underpants or liners may come in handy as it would help your child know when he needs to go to the toilet.
- Help your child to let you know when he needs to use the toilet. This need not necessarily mean verbal communication, but it can be non-verbal too.
- Do not make your child sit on the toilet seat for long. Make him sit for a few minutes rather than sitting for longer durations, as it may make him think that he is being punished for something.
- Maintain your calm and patience with your child. It will take time, but your child will be on the right track soon.
- Always be warm and kind towards your child’s efforts, no matter how trivial or big they are. Encouraging behaviour goes a long way in helping the child learn better.
Additional Tips to Make Toilet Training a Success
Here are additional tips for children with autism and potty training:
- Try and make your child comfortable with the potty training experience by making him sit on the potty seat for a few minutes every day before you actually begin potty training.
- If your child is scared of sitting on the seat, you can use a training seat that is specially designed for children.
- Try using a stool to provide leg support to your child.
- Children may feel scared of the loud flushing sound; make them aware of such things beforehand itself.
There is no denying that toilet training can get a bit taxing for both the child and the parents. However, consistent efforts will help in yielding positive results. If you are not able to manage the training, it will be a good idea to seek professional guidance from your doctor.
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2. Toilet training: autistic children; raisingchildren.net.au; https://raisingchildren.net.au/autism/health-wellbeing/toileting-hygiene/toilet-training-autism
3. Seven toilet training tips that help nonverbal kids with autism; Autism Speaks; https://www.autismspeaks.org/expert-opinion/seven-toilet-training-tips-help-nonverbal-kids-autism; February 2016
4. Potty Training A Child With Autism; Autism Response Team; https://autismresponseteam.com/potty-training-a-child-with-autism/; April 2022
5. Nunez. A; Potty Training For Autism – The Ultimate Guide; Autism Parenting Magazine; https://www.autismparentingmagazine.com/autism-potty-training-guide/; February 2023
6. Toileting – a guide for parents and carers; National Autistic Society; https://www.autism.org.uk/advice-and-guidance/topics/behaviour/toileting/parents