Before you start potty training, chart your child’s urination patterns over a ten to fourteen day time period. This will help determine how long your child is staying dry, and also when urination is most likely to occur. You must be able to arrange a fair amount of time with your child to do nothing else but potty training. It is helpful to have two or even three people available to help.
Give your child plenty of fluids. This will encourage urination and will increase the opportunities to reward successful attempts. Place him on the potty at the first waking moment of the day, for about three to five minutes. Make this a fun time. Read stories, blow bubbles or play games. Use your data chart to gauge how frequently to put him back on the potty. If he is staying dry between sittings on the potty, expand the time gradually by a set increment of minutes.
If there is an accident, lessen the time between potty sittings to the previous amount of free time where he remained successful. After a few hours, if successful, you may want to put training pants on your child. Remember that potty training is a big step for a child. They have been peeing in those diapers for a long time. Habits don’t die easily; be patient and consistent.
A long list of related toilet training ideas follow; some alert you to the sensory issues involved with potty training a child with ASD. Others speak to encouragement, praise, and reward.
1. Try to get your child to sit on the toilet with the lid down while he is still wearing diapers; then move on to sitting with the lid up and undressed.
2. Teach pre-toilet dressing skills first; many involve motor planning skills that need to be in place to manage the dressing/undressing sequence and fastening pants.
3. Don’t potty train when there has been a major event; for example, Mom is back at work, you moved to a new house, or the child moved to a bigger bed. Likewise, if your child gets sick during training, all bets are off. Delay the routine and start again once he’s well or changes are back to a minimum.
4. Choose a method and stick with it. Give any method at least several weeks to see if it works. However, if you don’t see positive gains in two weeks, take a good look at your program for inconsistencies or errors and adjust accordingly.
5. Use underpants; they get wet and provide feedback to the child. To help protect the furniture, and maintain good hygiene, try plastic pants over the underwear, or plastic padding on the furniture while training takes place.
6. Consider, how you dress the child during potty training. Potty training is easier in the summer because children have less clothing to deal with. Elastic-waist pants are a better choice than those that may cause him to have accidents while fumbling with zippers. He needs to be successful when he does the right thing.
7. Be a model. Children learn from example. If it is comfortable for you, provide your child with opportunities to see how the potty is effectively used. Or use siblings to model the correct behaviors for your child.
8. Use a positive approach and stay upbeat and supportive at all times. When you see appropriate behaviors, comment on them and reinforce them with specific verbal praise.
9. Use simple, concrete directives and be consistent with your language.
10. Expect some accidents and when they happen, remain calm. Never punish accidents; they’re part of eventually getting it right. However, teach your child responsibility for his actions by having him help clean up a mess he created. Clean up with minimal social interaction. As strange as it may sound, the verbal attention can be reinforcing for some children.
11. Schedule a relaxing or low stimulation activity just before scheduled toilet times so your child is more relaxed before starting the toilet training routine.
12. Teach using the toilet as an entire routine involving preparation and activities needed for completion, rather than just sitting on the toilet. Break the toilet training program into parts your child can handle. For instance, going to the bathroom and closing the door, undressing, toileting, dressing, washing hands, exiting the bathroom. Using a visual schedule will help promote independence. Cover your strip of visual cues with plastic, so they don’t get wet.
13. Avoid asking if the child needs to use the bathroom when the schedule indicates a toileting time. Until the child is trained, handing him a visual cue means that potty routine starts.
14. Make sure the bathroom is seen as a relaxing place, and not loaded with tension. Check for any stressors that might influence your child (bathroom fan, glaring lights, texture of the toilet seat or carpeting, smells)
15. If your child reacts negatively to sitting on the toilet, it may be in response to the feel of the seat, feeling unstable while on the toilet, being afraid of the noise from flushing or being afraid of falling into or touching the water.
a) Use a stool so their feet are flat on a surface, at right angles to the floor, which supports their back.
b) Change out the seat for a vinyl, padded one; consider a slightly smaller sized seat that is commonly available.
16. If your child impulsively jumps off the toilet to late at other things in the bathroom, place a small, plastic table over his lap once he sits down. Then give him a few favored toys or activities to play with on the table.
17. Be careful using perfumed soaps, lotions and wet wipes when completing the toileting routine. Some children are cued by the smell to engage in the related behavior. Smelling the perfume on their hands may prompt them to eliminate once outside the bathroom.
18. Eliminating in the toilet is one of the few tasks that you do NOT want the anxious child to focus on. Give her something else to focus attention on, such as a book or a toy. The more she thinks about eliminating, the more difficult it will be.
19. Think twice about using food as a reinforcer, as it may not be the enticing after a meal.
20. For children who eliminate several times per hour, because of a constant intake or food of liquids, consider incorporating scheduled intake of food and drink during the potty training program.
21. If you decide to use books or toys or a particular music CD to induce relaxation during the toileting routine, make sure items are not available to the child at any other time of the day.
22. If your child is too fascinated by flushing the toilet, make sure your picture cue shows not only when to flush, but how many times.
23. Handwashing: Use precise directions such as “use one squirt of soap” or “wash for one minute” (use a timer) if you find your child become stuck during this part of the sequence or use it for play.
24. Is your child using too much toilet paper? Teach her to count out a specific number of sheets, or place a mark along the wall, several inches below the roll, then teach her to unroll the paper until the end touches the mark, then tear it off.
25. Once your child has learned to use the toilet properly, don’t remove all the visual cues. Change the appearance to simpler visual prompts, or those that are more natural looking.
26. Avoid trying to toilet train a child at night when frequent or regular wetting in the daytime is still a problem. First things first.
27. Communicate any information to your child’s teacher that may impact his toilet training program: unusual foods ingested, or new medications.
28. All caregivers, including grandmas, should consistently use the same toilet training methods. Teach them what you are doing and enlist their help and cooperation to maintain a consistent program.