Most children are typically potty trained by the age of 3 1/2, for children on the autism spectrum however, this may begin later. Even with the best visual printable resources available. Some individuals on the spectrum are never toilet trained fully.
Here’s how to start potty training an autistic child with visual cards. Want more parenting tips? Check out a mom’s guide on how to parent an autistic child.
Top Tips for Potty Training an Autistic Child
One of the reasons that potty training or toilet training can be difficult for autistic children is because of the rigidity with their routine. Now, I’m not suggesting that you abandon all routine and structure for the purposes of potty training. Far from it.
Simply look for ways to incorporate time for potty training into your child’s existing routine and schedule.
For my daughter? Her classroom had her 1:1 aide sit with her in the bathroom all day. Yes, all day. The bathroom was attached to the classroom so she could exit when needed to participate in group activities. Otherwise? Everything else was in the bathroom.
This may seem a little extreme and I wouldn’t recommend starting with something like that.
However, it is a tactic to try.
Why is potty training difficult for autistic children?
Children with autism may not be able to communicate to you that they need to use the restroom. Or they may have language, but they don’t have the right language.
Pretty frustrating, right?
Imagine wanting to use the bathroom but not being able to say that you need to use the bathroom.
This is where something like visual cards or visual cues come in.
Even something as simple as teaching the sign for bathroom. For my daughter, that’s what we used as well. We started with a visual schedule but I also taught her the sign. One of her classroom teachers later told me that my daughter was going up to her and using the sign before she had her communication device in place.
So by giving her the language and means to communicate? She was able to express to any adult that she needed to use the bathroom.
How to Use Potty Training Cards for Autism
For younger children, or for children who really benefit from visual schedules and supports; these potty training cards may help. I do have another bathroom chart and card set, but these new ones are updated and I think show more detail. I did not include a bathroom chart in this particular set but if there is a need for it, I am happy to add one in.
To get started with visual schedules, download the Autism Family Life Toolkit for Parents of Autistic Children
Here’s how to use these:
- Print out a set to keep in the bathroom
- Print out a set to keep in a homemade PECS binder
- Set up the steps that you need (boy or girl)
- Help your child understand the process. Repeat it with them as often as necessary
Before you begin any of this though, ask yourself the following questions:
- Is your child motivated to begin toilet training?
- Does your child have regular/routine bowel movements and urinate regularly?
- Has your child learned to sit on the toilet?
If your child is ready to begin the process, you can start to plan.
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