High admiration to all the moms and dads parenting children who have autism. Your love, patience, and perseverance are that of heroes. Your children are blessed to have you as their parent.
Recently, I joined some Potty Training Groups on Facebook, so that I could read posts from parents who are working at potty training their children. I was interested in evaluating if the AskThePottyFairy.blog had a comprehensive list of posts for parents who may be seeking information regarding potty training. After a few months of reviewing parent posts this summer, I have concluded that our blog has a well-rounded menu of topics regarding potty training, with the exception of one topic, “Potty Training a Child Who Has Autism”.
I found that there were many posts from parents seeking answers to questions they had about potty training a child who had autism. In addition to my findings from reading the posts, on a personal level, our family includes a special boy and much-loved boy, who has autism. Although he is potty trained, I was curious about the process for him.
Truthfully, our little guy has been a little bit of a puzzle and a mystery for me but once I realized he was not going to be the same as what I was used to with the other kids in our family and I accepted that fact, everything changed. I learned to love him for who he is and enjoy him for who he is. I truly believe there are no limits to what he will do. He is beautifully unique, and oh, so special. The love from him in return is enormous.
For our little guy and other children with autism, potty training can be a challenge for many different reasons. I would like to share some of what I have learned:
1. One reason is that many children who have autism have difficulty transitioning from routines. So for potty training, the routine is using a diaper or pull-up. Moving from a diaper to using the toilet and wearing underwear is a big break in routine that requires some effort.
2. Another reason is that children with autism have communication challenges, which can create a barrier regarding telling someone that they need to use the bathroom.
3. As with many changes and transitions, children with autism can develop anxiety about change so anxiety around using the toilet can occur.
4. Due to sensory issues, children with autism may not get the signals that they need to go to the bathroom so nonverbal cues may not be demonstrated! They may “go without warning” or make it difficult for caregivers to get them to the bathroom on time.
5. Children with autism have the same signs of readiness as other children. The age that these signs show-up may not be the same as other children.
Thankfully, there are some strategies that can help to address these issues that children with autism can benefit when learning to use the toilet:
1. An important first step is to realize that toilet training is largely about communication and working together with your child.
2. Visual prompts are extremely helpful. Pictures of the steps when using the toilet are helpful. Use pictures and use simple and direct messages when using visual prompts. Visual prompts with simple directions are the most effective with no discussion. Be supportive.
3. Don’t delay the underwear! Move your child into underwear as soon as possible. This step is true for all children.
4. When an accident occurs, minimize the accident, clean up the accident and your child and move on. Have as little conversation about the accident as possible.
5. Reward your child for success, or “catch them doing good”. Rewards can be activities, favorite snacks, or a small toy. Keep these as rewards, not bribes. There is a difference.
Consider including a visual picture of your child receiving a reward for successfully following all the steps. Rewards should be immediate and consistent.
6. As your child progresses in using the toilet, work at a signal he can show that means he needs to use the bathroom. Maybe a visual signal he can give you that he needs to go and may need your help.
-Perhaps you would want to put a picture of a toilet on his belt loop or shirt button hole and he could point to it when he believes he needs to go to the bathroom.
-Later, your child may show ‘body motions” to demonstrate that they need to use the bathroom and will no longer need a visual picture.
7. Definitely reward your child for any effort to communicate. Make sure the rewards you give your child are truly rewarding for your child.
8. To help with anxiety, we would like to recommend a product called “The Potty Rider” to help your child feel more confident and less afraid about using the toilet. This tool has helped many children with autism overcome the anxiety they feel when getting themselves up to the toilet seat. “The Potty Rider” has sturdy steps that your child can use to get up to the toilet and handlebars to hang on to for added security. “The Potty Rider” comes in different styles including a motorcycle, a dinosaur, and horses. “The Potty Rider” helps children move from anxiety to having fun. The “Potty Fairy Potty Rider”, “Bolt ( black) and Beauty(white) ” styles are available on our website ww.thepottyfairy.com and other styles and testimonials can be found at pottyrider.com/
Finally, I would like to mention that there is a FREE download of a complete guide to potty training children with autism. The link is here. “Autism Potty Training-The Ultimate Guide”
Remember The Potty Fairy book to add fun and creative imaginative play to your potty training process! Available in 3 languages! www.thepottyfairy.com