How do you train a child with special needs?

Lorraine MacAlister, Autism Training Consultant, The National Autistic Society gave some good advice on this…

Why might children with autism find toilet training tricky?

There are various aspects of autism that might make toilet training tricky, but not impossible. Some of the communication and interaction around toilet training can be difficult to understand; the amount of verbal language used, phrases like “let’s spend a penny”, learning what to do by copying others, not liking change or being put off by the idea of wearing ‘big boy/girl pants’. Many children also have sensory differences, therefore they may find it difficult to register the need to use the toilet or may find the bathroom a very overloading room to be in – or they may love it and be more interested in posting things down the toilet or flushing it!

What things are important to think about?

When thinking about toilet training a child with autism, there might be some other things to think about when planning for this.

  • Think about the bathroom – remove unnecessary distractions and try to start changing nappies in the bathroom
  • Language – think about the words you’re going to use, make sure everyone uses the same words, e.g. “wee and poo”
  • Supplies – do they need a toilet seat, foot stool, rails to hold on to, wet wipes, a ‘toilet toy’ to encourage them to sit on the toilet
  • Developing a toileting routine – using visual supports
  • Are they ready – it can be useful to monitior their nappies for a 2/3 days to get a picture of when they normally have a wee and this will also let you know if they are staying dry for about 1½ hours in the day which is an indicator that they are ready, they may need help with learning how to sit on the toilet and with understanding that wee and poo need to go in the toilet (Rewards and Social StoriesTM can help with this).
  • When you are ready – remove the nappy and using your visual routine to support your child, try sitting them on the toilet around the time where they were usually having a wee or around break or mealtimes – but not too often as to put them off or to encourage them to wee too often.

For more information, visit the NAS website.


This entry was posted in Methods.