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Tips for Toilet Training

toilet training infographic

Toilet training an individual with autism can be a challenging process. It is also one of the most important life skills that lead to more independence once the milestone has been reached. We’ve outlined three steps to help you and your child succeed throughout this process together.

Step 1: Determining a Child’s Readiness

It’s important to keep in mind that each child will progress at their own pace when it comes to toilet training. To help parents/caregivers in determining when a child is ready to begin, consider the following six factors:

  1. Age – Has your child reached an appropriate age? It is typically recommended to wait until after your child’s second birthday to consider toilet training.
  2. Bladder Control – Does your child completely empty his or her bladder when voiding? Does he or she remain dry for at least 1.5 hours during the day?
  3. Predictable Stooling Patterns – Do your child’s bowel movements follow a regular and predictable pattern?
  4. Behavior – Can your child sit on the toilet or potty chair comfortably for 2-5 minutes? He or she may look at preferred books or play with preferred toys while sitting on the toilet.
  5. Instructional Readiness – Can your child follow a few simple instructions? These may include sit down, come here, stand up, etc.
  6. Motor Skills – Is your child able to get to and from the bathroom independently? Can he or she pick up objects on their own?

Step 2: Determining a Parent’s/Caregiver’s Readiness

It is just as critical to determine a parent’s or caregiver’s readiness when considering beginning toilet training. Parents or caregivers will need to be prepared to dedicate time and effort to implement an effective program. Before taking the first step together with their child, evaluate the following: 

  1. Assess your child’s bladder control, ability to demonstrate a need to go, and voiding pattern. Collect this information every day for two weeks. Recording these details on a data sheet or chart can be helpful.
  2. Every 30-60 minutes, check your child’s diaper. Place a checkmark on the data sheet in each corresponding time slot that your child indicated a need to go. Collect this information for two weeks as well. If at the end of the two weeks the chart shows that your child consistently remained dry for at least 1.5 hours, indicated a need to go, and displayed a voiding pattern, then your child may be ready to start.
  3. If your child does not indicate readiness skills at the end of the two weeks, you can either continue taking data or stop and restart at a later date.

Step 3: Getting Started

Once you’re both ready to get started, these tips will help you both succeed!

  1. Each day should begin with the same schedule: wake up, take off the wet diaper, go to the bathroom, and put on big boy underwear or big girl panties.
  2. Take your child to the bathroom any time you anticipate his or her need to urinate or have a bowel movement.
  3. Use visuals for the toilet routine and/or hand washing, such as the images below. Feel free to print these images to use yourself! Click each image to view/print in a larger size.

Toilet Routine Visual Guide

Hand Washing Visual Guide


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