Toilet-training, or potty-training in some cultures, for kids is always challenging for parents. When it comes to training kids with autism, this challenge piles mountains. Autistic children are less responsive and learn with a little delay compared to normal children.
Because of the abnormal brain structure and functions, children with autism often have behavioral disturbances. Aside from that, they face difficulties in social interaction, non-verbal communication, eye contact, flat speech, etc.
Why is it more difficult to potty train kids with autism? Some of the common problems that every parent encounters are:
1. The kid is impatient to sit on the toilet for longer.
2. Some have an excessive interest in flushing repeatedly.
3. Some kids with autism fear flushing the toilet after use.
4. They tend to play with toilet paper or water.
5. The children panic when they touch dirty things.
6. Some kids don’t want to clean up.
7. Failure to communicate about constipation or irregular bowel movements.
When you toilet-train any kids with autism, then you may encounter some more problems. To know more about these problems, click here.
Autism has five main variants in kids. These are-
1. Asperger’s syndrome
2. Rett syndrome
3. Pervasive development disorder
4. Childhood disintegrative disorder (CDD)
5. Kanner’s syndrome
Most children develop cognitive behavior within their first 2 to 3 years. However, children with autism require more time than other children. It is better not to push them hard for anything. What you perceive to be little is more for any autistic child.
Toilet Training Plan for Autistic Kids
The toilet training plan may not sound good, but it is important for any child with autism. You have to plan well and keep up your patience levels to win this mission. Let’s follow some common strategies step by step.
1. Visual Training
It is the best effective option to teach any child. Kids are generally more accepting of visual perception. They can gather more memory to remember the command and follow whatever your train.
You can label some lines on colorful photographs. These could be “Wash hands,” “flush the toilet,” “Wipe with toilet paper,” etc. Now put them in order and teach him to step by step. Make sure you are not making it more complex than it has to be.
Integrating some cartoon characters would make it more exciting and acceptable for autistic kids. Try to make it fun. This will help naturally develop his or her learning.
2. Buy helping tool for kids
In order to succeed in the visual training, you can buy an extra tool for your kids. General toilet seats and sinks are much higher for any kids under 5 years. So it is obvious if you are trying to train your kids for toilet or for washing hand in sinks you need few extra inch support systems for them.
Consequently it will be appropriate if you buy toddler step stool to help your kids to reach the destination by their self.
This simple stool gives them confidence and capable them to practice visual training more effectively.
3. Diaper to Underwear
How long does a kid need diapers? Well, most parents continue to use diapers even after the first two years because it is hassle-free to clean him up and they don’t have to think about midnight pee whisking.
Even though they may start potty training late, most kids can absorb words quickly. However, autistic kids need more time to understand everything, and starting late does not help. Because of the late switch to diapers, he or she will face difficulty in developing the sensation about toileting.
What happens when he switches from diapers to underwear? There will be some accidents. That wet agitation will create discomfort on the child’s skin. He will cry and try to find a better alternative. Being a trainer, you have to use this stimulus to help train him for proper toileting habits.
4. Keep Patience
As mentioned earlier, autistic children can be slow in learning new things, so there is a good possibility that he will repeat the same mistake and you have to clean him up again and again. That can surely be frustrating, but you have to stay patient.
Let him realize his mistake. Keep reminding him about toileting. Show the pictures of step one and most importantly do not scold on his mistakes. Good behavior is half of the training. He must feel comfortable and friendly to believe and trust you.
5. Give Him Rewards
Pay attention to his attempts to use the toilet. Give him rewards on every good attempt. These rewards will motivate him and try to accelerate his learning. A good reward can be anything that makes him happy. It can be cartoons, toys, chocolates, flowers, or anything else the child enjoys.
Make a good reserve of his reward and make him realize if he can do it again, you will give him more. Also, it is important to reward him as soon as he completes the task. Furthermore, you can draw both pictures of rewards and toilets and collage them or make an arrow in between them. Show him this picture for a better understanding of this reward process.
6. Focus on Communication
The child must communicate with you for his urge to make natural calls. He must develop the sensation of a full bladder and compulsion to empty it. Even if he does everything right, poor communication can doom the entire training.
If it is a non-verbal autistic child or a child with speech problems, then you may have to teach him finger signs. A child having both speech and hearing problems needs another way of communication. Clip a picture of the toilet to his shirt buttons and teach him to point on it whenever he feels the urge to go to the bathroom.
Nowadays you will find more advanced assisted communication devices for special children with different pictures with audible sounds to help them communicate. He just needs to select a picture and press on it. The audible sound will signal you to his toileting impulse.
7. Try Professional Therapist
When all your hard work and patience seems to have been all in vain, then this is your last hope. Find a personalized autistic child therapist. They are masters in behaviors that stem from autism and know exactly how to deal with autistic children.
Though it is costly, they will train him and customize his behavior. However, you must not leave him just for the therapist to train or work with. He must know you are always there for him. You must be compassionate about his training.
Other than that, an autistic child builds more love and affection for people who stay with them longer. So leaving him to a therapist completely can send him negative signals about you. He may not accept you like before. Even if you try a professional therapist, do stick with the child and motivate him while training.
Training autistic children for successful toileting is not impossible. You just need to maintain good strategies and patience. Keep repeating until you reach your goal. There are hundreds of people who already found success in potty training their child, and there is no single reason that you can’t. You must believe and keep trying for success.