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Top 10 Tips for Toilet Training

Toilet training can be a struggle to teach to children on the autism spectrum due to lack of motivation and limited communication. By breaking down the different skills needed to be successful with toileting, every child can make strides to increase their independence with toileting routines. Below are some tips on creating successful toileting routines with your child.


1.    Find a time to work on toilet training and be consistent: Choose a day and time that works around your schedule and when you can commit your time solely to toilet training. Try to be consistent as possible with your toileting schedule and routines surrounding the bathroom – this includes following the same steps of initiating, voiding, dressing and washing hands.

2.    Associate the toilet with your child’s favorite things: Make the experience positive and fun by singing songs, reading books or watching videos with your child while they are sitting on the toilet.

3.    Ditch the diapers and pull ups: Put your child in underwear for the entire time you are working on toilet training. You want your child to be able to feel an accident and to signal that something is different. Make sure you have a lot of clean underwear ready to go before you start!

4.    Use visual supports to help your child throughout the process: Use visuals/pictures of the bathroom and any rewards that allow your child to know the expectations, toileting routine and what they get when they use the bathroom. Use the same simple visuals each time you make a trip to the bathroom. A timer is also useful to indicate when it’s time to use the bathroom.

5.    Create a reinforcement system: Find toys/edibles that your child likes and that are easily and immediately delivered once your child goes on the toilet! If you can, isolate those favorites items to be used only for successful bathroom trips to increase motivation for the items and using the toilet.

6.    Make sure your child is drinking plenty of liquids: The more your child needs to go, the more opportunities for success they will have! Make sure your child is drinking liquids during the entire toileting schedule so they know what a full bladder feels like.

7.    Set an interval: Start with taking your child to the toilet every 5 minutes. Have them sit on the toilet for 3-5 minutes or until they void. If they void – reinforce immediately with one of the isolated toys/edibles. If they do not void within the 3-5 minutes, take them off and try again in 5 minutes!

8.    Include a dry pants check: Once you are spending longer durations off the toilet, add in a dry pants check every 5 or 10 minutes. When the timer goes off, you and your child can check to see if their underwear and pants are dry. If they are – reward with a small toy/edible!

9.    Once your child is using the toilet consistently, increase the interval: When your child is using the toilet consistently (ex: 1 day of no accidents), gradually increase the interval by 5 minutes. If the accidents increase at a certain interval, you can drop the interval by 5 or 10 minutes until they are not having accidents.

10.  Prompt functional communication every time you go: Eventually, you want your child to independently initiate when they need to use the bathroom. Every time you go, make sure to prompt language from your child in the form of vocal language, signs, communication devices or pictures. The language used to indicate they need the bathroom should be simple and direct (ex: picture of toilet, “bathroom”, “I need the bathroom”)