Potty training children in the autistic spectrum tend to be challenging for a variety of reasons: the presence of a developmental delay, a speech delay, fear of changing an established routine, fear of the unknown, loud sounds and anxiety in general.
Below you will find our step by step plan to lead your autistic child through their potty training journey:
How to tell an autistic child is ready to be potty trained
The potty training readiness signs are quite similar to neurotypical children, however, it can definitely happen when they are a bit older: the ability to hold pee for longer periods, awareness of eliminating, being able to follow simple directions ("please sit on the potty").
Start by simply bring a potty to your bathroom and talking casually about it during bathtime or when you go to the bathroom.
At nighttime, start reading books about potty training. Our favorite book for kids in the spectrum is Once upon a potty, by Alona Frankel (Boys version, and Girls Version). It is factual, simple and the graphics are clear. (We of course also love our very own potty training book!).
Kids in the autistic spectrum really benefit from using visuals. Feel free to print out the images below and tape them to the wall in your bathroom to remind your child of the 3 steps:
1) I need to pee/poo: I find my potty
2) I sit on the potty
and 3) I wash my hands
Alongside using visuals to remind your child about the process of using the potty, we recommend you use a stickers chart or a similar reward system to keep your child motivated. Celebrate from trying to go (sitting on the potty is a great 1st step!), using the potty and remembering to wash hands afterward. Other great moments to celebrate and praise your child (especially if loud noises are a problem) is when your little one uses a public toilet, being ok with flushing and the loud noise from a public toilet's hand drying machine.
Potty training a child in the autistic spectrum can take a long time. While some kids take a few weeks, some others may take months and up to a year. Try your best to remain patient and being ok with taking a break if potty training brings too much anxiety to your child.
A few tips:
- Try to use very direct language. Instead of "sit on the potty" which could be interpreted as simply sitting... try "Sit on the potty and try to pee".
- Slowly introduce the new routine to your child. Setting up a timer and giving a heads up when it is time to try sitting on the potty will help you establish the "new normal". Every 2 hours is a good start.
- Increase water intake during potty training. This will help provide more opportunities to learn.
Ready to Potty train your child?
Potty Training Fix is a complete kit to potty train toddlers, suitable for children in the autistic spectrum.
Each box contains a detailed step-by-step methodology for parents and a curated selection of items for the child to successfully say goodbye to diapers.