Knowing when and how to potty train a child with autism can be the most important steps in the process.
Potty training any child can be a tedious task for a caregiver, but that is especially the case when trying to teach a child with autism how to properly use the toilet. It can take multiple months for them to understand what to do, so it’s important to understand that going into the process. Patience is important while training your child. It won’t happen overnight. Learn to enjoy the small victories with your child along the way to becoming fully potty trained.
It’s also a good idea to inform your child’s school that they are going through the process of potty training.
Preparing To Potty Train A Child With Autism
It’s hard to know exactly when the best time is to potty train a child with autism. The general rule of thumb is to wait until they are aware of needing to go to the bathroom. They can show that awareness by informing parents that they need to be changed, becoming distracted or fidgeting when wet or soiled, or they can show behavior changes when they need to go.
When you’re ready to start the process, it’s a good idea to change your child in the bathroom so they begin to associate going to the bathroom with the actual toilet.
Training For The Toilet
Getting started can be one of the toughest steps in training your child with autism to use the toilet. When the training begins, it’s important to establish a routine. Take your child to the toilet at scheduled times to begin the process to see if they need to use it. Keep a chart of what times you took them and whether or not they used the restroom. This chart will give you a good feel for when the best times to take them to the bathroom will be in the future.
If the child continues to wet themselves while you are training them, ignore the wetting and use positive reinforcement to help teach that the toilet is where they should go to the bathroom.
While your child is sitting on the toilet, it’s alright to give them a toy or book to help them relax. It’s important to make sure a toy doesn’t make them excited and steal their attention. The goal is to help them to relax so they can go to the bathroom without anything distracting them from the top priority.
This is an opportunity to see which kind of reinforcement your child responds to the best. Do they enjoy verbal praise after correctly using the toilet, or do they respond better when given an object as a reward?
Visuals can help the child during the learning process. Putting pictures of how they should use the toilet next to it can help them see what to do and further reinforce into their mind what the process should be.
The potty training process is also an important time to implement the habit of washing hands after using the toilet.
Adjusting Your Bathroom
While your child is busy learning to be potty trained, it’s important to make sure there are no stumbling blocks to the process in the bathroom they use.
Take out any potential distractions in the bathroom that could steal your child’s attention. It should be your top priority to make sure they understand the importance of the bathroom and what the toilet is for.
Everything in the bathroom should be promoting your child’s independence. Are they able to reach the sink and the towel? As they get later in the process and begin to understand the bathroom better, is everything else accessible for your child’s use without needing any help? Independence is always the goal when trying to potty train a child with autism.
Developing For The Night
When your child is improving and getting closer to fully potty trained, it’s good to start preparing them to use the toilet at night.
The learning can be easier for a child if they stick with a routine before bed. It’s also best to keep them from consuming any liquids for an hour before going to sleep. Taking the child to the bathroom before putting them in bed can also benefit the process, as will taking them to the bathroom as soon as they wake up in the morning. Both of these ideas will help potty train a child with autism.
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