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Potty training an ASD child - any tips/pointers?

(18 Posts)
benfmsmum Sat 06-Jun-09 22:52:21

Hi! My ds is 3.9 and has mild ASD. He doesn't talk very much and so it is hard to understand what he is feeling etc. He is still in nappies and occasionally will tell you he has a wet/dirty nappy but not very often.

Recently though he has started to hold himself (right underneath his body between his legs) and says his version of "fall down". He can become distressed at this too sometimes. If he has no nappy on and wee's "accidently" he is upset too. We are working on the "its alright to wee" issue!

I have an appointment at the doctors on Tuesday to rule out any infection/illness etc. but have a feeling that he may be experiencing the sensation of weeing and therefore potty trining is looming at long last!!

Does anyone out there have any tips on how to potty train an autistic child? I know that all autistic children vary but any pointers of what to try/look out for/not do - would be very much appreciated!!


Yurtgirl Sat 06-Jun-09 22:59:20

I am attending an Earlybirdplus course atm - which I would highly reccomend btw
We talked about toilet training - the suggestion was similar to how you would approach it with other children but be much more conscious of only teaching one skill at a time - starting backwards

Use visual images to explain what he needs to do - go to toilet potty, trousers down, pants down, sit down, do what you do!, wipe, stand up, pants up, trousers up, wash hands


benfmsmum Sat 06-Jun-09 23:05:56

Thanks Yurt, I'll look into those courses. I've done a couple of courses with the NAS which were very helpful but as most of the children were much older than mine potty training wasn't discussed in much detail. I have the pooland story though which may be helpful if needed.

My son does pick things up quite quickly visually so that should help. The only book I have at the moment though to read is one from ELC which shows teddy sitting on the potty - when it is taken literally its not much help to us - teddy on the potty and a puddle on the floor!!! grin

Yurtgirl Sat 06-Jun-09 23:26:09

I suspect teddy on the potty would confuse him!

You could try taking photos of him - ds on potty/toilet, ds taking trousers down, ds washing hands - ie a photo of every single thing he would need to do in order to do a wee/poo - then make a photo story book for him
Or make a book/picture strip story with pictures - hunt on the web - I started a thread about visual images in MN special needs a couple of weeks ago - worth a look!

Visual stimuli can work really well with an asd child

NAS earlybird is for parents of children 4 and under
earlybirdplus for parents of kids 5-8

There are two families at my earlybird course who have children with autism who are perfectly toilet trained at school - but in nappies at home (both 5 years old) so that is something to be aware of - common for an asd child to be unable to translate the skill from one setting to another


Yurtgirl Sat 06-Jun-09 23:27:38

Sorry I meant to add - teddy on the potty will probably confuse as your ds is not a teddy
A picture of himself on the potty/drawing or photo of a boy will be more helpful

MavysMum Sun 07-Jun-09 00:11:42


I have toilet trained a number of little ones with ASD. The visuals are a good idea.

We do it quite intensively initially and then fade back. Pick a day you are going to start and spend that day in the house. Give LOTS of fluids and start with staying close to the bathroom and then go to the loo at set intervals (sit on the loo for a few minutes and lots of praise if they go). Once they are staying dry during those set intervals, increase the time and gradually move further away from the bathroom. Have a think about how your DS will communicate that he needs the toilet and incorporate that too. So if he will hand over a toilet PEC start this too and encourage him to do that when you are going to the loo,

Making a social story about toileting can help too depending on the level your DS's understanding is at.

If you start intensively and then fade back you should see success within a few days.

sickofsocalledexperts Sun 07-Jun-09 11:15:47

I bought a loo seat, put a load of toys in the toilet and then sat ASD DS on there playing for ages. If the tiniest wee or poo appeared, he got a choc treat. It took time, but actually for me missing out the potty stage worked well in the end. Only problem is my DS still wees sitting down, but hey who cares about that.

notfromaroundhere Sun 07-Jun-09 13:08:06

I really rate these potty stickers here. This helped DS1 get over his fear of weeing, as the sticker changed from black to a picture when he did a wee. To begin with we had the potty near him then when he started weeing put him on it. After a couple of times he then wanted to make the sticker change by himself so would take himself off to the potty.

SheWhoMustBeIgnored Sun 07-Jun-09 14:13:39

ds1 is 2.9 and has just started but he has gone from peeing on the floor to taking pants off using the potty emptying it cleaning it and glusing the toilet in about a week. i did not intend to train him as i thought it would be a while but we have had the potty in the toilet for a while one day he was about to wee on the floor - he stood as he does for a wee. i was fed up with cleaning it up so grabbed the end of it carried him to the potty sat him on it and he weed which was rewarded with mummy being very silly and a bit of chocolate. i lessened the reward each time. he does not sit on it though and will not poo on it he waits for a nappy at bed time. today we are trying to use the toilet as he does not hold it so i am trying to get him to do ready aim fire. if fact he is so good at controling it now he does it as a protest angry
but i think the trick was getting him to do it once and giving him a big reward, as it seems if he does it once he knows what to do.

benfmsmum Sun 07-Jun-09 18:25:59

Thanks ladies!! All these comments are really appreciated.

Taking photo's of my ds doing all the things needed and making a story strip is a really good idea as he recognises himself in photo's and will make much more sense to him than the teddy does, thanks Yurtgirl!!

The wee friend stickers look a great idea too - I will get some of them too, Notfromroundhere.

I agree, sickofexperts, sitting down for a wee isn't anything to worry about!!

I really appreciate you all taking time to reply to me. I feel a bit more ready for this next chapter in our lives!! smile

benfmsmum Mon 08-Jun-09 12:59:16

Another question, if I may?: Did anyone use those training pull up nappies or did you go straight to pants?

SheWhoMustBeIgnored Mon 08-Jun-09 13:06:57

we went to pants but found he was alot better in boxers think the little pants confused him as they squash their bits up like a nappy iyswim

benfmsmum Mon 08-Jun-09 13:12:24

I can understand that!! My mum has bought some pants for ds but maybe I'll get some boxers too! Thanks!

5inthebed Mon 08-Jun-09 17:04:03

Well, we are about 10 weeks into toilet training DS2, and its going really really slow, but he had his first poo on the toilet today (I could have cried......ok, maybe I did).

Anyway, when we started it, we were helped by his SN school. DS2 was showing the same signs your Ds is.

The first plan of action was to sit him on the toilet/potty after every nappy change and say either wee or poo, depending on what he had just done. Lots of praise even if they don't do anything.

After a few weeks of this progressed to DS2 wearing a pair of underpants after one nappy change a day. I usually done it in the afternoon when I knew he wouldn't need a poo. Ask him every 10 mins or so if he needs the toilet and sit him on it. Again lots of praise.

Few weeks later, his Sn school started putting him in underpants when he arrived at school. It was here where he had his first wee.

He is still in nappies most of the time, except for these times wesring underpants.

Oh, and we picked underpants with his favourite characters on them (Peppa Pig and Fireman Sam) to make it a bit more fun.


benfmsmum Mon 08-Jun-09 17:50:11

Well done little5!! I know just what you mean about dissolving into tears at what appears to others as being nothing but to us its a great achievement!!

As my ds keeps putting the potty back in the cupboard saying "no!" I asked him if he wanted to use the big toilet and he said "yes". Most of the time he means yes when he says yes iykwim!! So I think maybe camping out near the toilet for a while may be in store for us!!

I am going to gather all the prompts and tips suggested on here and then tackle this issue!! We are going to the doctors tomorrow just to check that he is at this stage now as I think and not that he is holding himself etc for some other reason.

Thank you all for giving me an insight as to what is to come and what to do when it does!!

BTW please excuse my ignorance in this area too but what does HTH stand for?? blush

5inthebed Mon 08-Jun-09 18:33:35

HTH = hope that helps.

Is he a Thomas fan? Mothercare have lovely cushioned Thomas seats in like this. I was debating whether or not to get DS2 one, and after todays grand performance, I think I just might.

benfmsmum Mon 08-Jun-09 18:56:57

HTH - obvious really!! Thanks!! grin

Yes ds does like Thomas (seems they all do!!) although to be honest he just likes anything with wheels, cars or trains, thomas or otherwise!!

I've just shown him the picture you sent through and he was definately interested and listened to what I was explaining about how I sit on the toilet and would he like to so I am sowing the seeds of knowledge I hope!!

5inthebed Mon 08-Jun-09 19:48:07

Ds2 is the same, anything with wheels and he is mesmorised.

We were at a christening the other week, and there was an old dear in a wheelchair. He tried on a few occasions to lie next to her chair and roll ithmm. Can't take him anywhere!

Good luck with the toilet. DS2 didn't like the idea of a potty either.

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