Toilet training when your child has autism isn’t always a straightforward process. Each child will become ready to transition to the toilet in their own time. They will also need their own methods for success and encouragement. So, how do you know when it is time, and what can you do to make the process easier?
How Do You Know Your Child Is Ready For Potty Training?
It is important to remember that every child and parent’s journey with autism and potty training is different. Don’t expect certain signs or a specific time frame. Instead, look out for indications of your child’s awareness of their bodily functions. Are they more uncomfortable after wetting or soiling themselves? This could be a prompt for encouraging them toward potty training.
They may also be more active in letting you know that they want to be changed. This could make it easier when encouraging potty training to show they can change themselves. Of course, they may come straight out and ask about using the toilet or show interest in trying it. The extent of this can depend on how verbal they are, so look for subtle signs too.
Whatever their reactions to diaper changes, you should also ensure they have enough bladder and bowel control to handle potty training. Can they go for a couple of hours without accidents?
Getting Started With A Potty Training Routine
If you feel that your child is ready to at least try potty training, start with small steps instead of going straight to the toilet. Show them that bathroom habits belong in the bathroom and start by doing diaper changes in there.
With time, they can work on the response of heading to the toilet when they get the urge. But, it is best not to use a potty as this can complicate matters. Get them used to the grown-up toilet from the start. You can use a toilet training seat so it is easier to sit and reach the toilet without the worry of falling in.
From there, it helps to insist everyone is on the same page. So, if you are starting a routine of moving away from diapers and using some of the specific tools below, make sure other family members do the same. Let older siblings appreciate the finer details to show support. Don’t let grandparents back down and go back to using diapers because it is easier.
Encouragement and Praise Help Where Appropriate
Remember that any small action in the right direction is worthy of praise and encouragement. Even if they attempt to use the toilet but are too late, at least they tried. It all depends on how well your child responds to praise. If they struggle with it then maintain a more measured response and maybe mark the success on a wall chart or reward chart, rather than lots of hugs and verbal praise.
Other Helpful Tips For Toilet Training With Autism
1) Autistic children often respond well to visual aids. Laminated comic strips and social stories can help them learn the actions required, from pulling down their pants and underwear to urinating or pooping in the bowl, wiping, and flushing the toilet. You can then have a separate sheet by the sink for washing their hands, as this is an entirely different skill. One thing at a time.
2) Autistic kids with sensory issues may have problems going to the toilet in the bathroom because of the feel of the seat, the bright light, or maybe the sound of their urine hitting the bowl. Look into ways of eliminating these problems. Perhaps with some mood lighting or white noise.
3) Consider getting some comfortable elasticated pants and fun new underwear to encourage potty training further. This more grown-up attire, perhaps with a beloved superhero, can strengthen that idea of doing the right thing.
Dealing With Setbacks When Potty Training Autistic Children
There will be setbacks where accidents happen. They aren’t going to react perfectly to every urge and use the toilet perfectly each time. The important thing is they tried. Focus on the efforts and positive results and be patient with them. It will get easier and better. As long as you are consistent with the encouragement, methods, and other tips above, you shouldn’t see many major setbacks.
Be Prepared To Adapt And Make Potty Training Personal To Your Child’s Needs
Your child will make mistakes when dealing with autism and potty training, and so will you. It is all part of the process. But, with patience, perseverance, kindness, and understanding, this will get easier. Get used to the signs that they are ready, do your best to make the transition easier and calmer, and appreciate the gradual progress.
Potty training a child with autism can go smoothly and other times it can be a little more difficult. I hope this article gave you a few suggestions on how to make the process work better for you and your child.