Parenting Kids With Autism – 4 Tips for Toilet Training

Parenting Kids With Autism – 4 Tips for Toilet Training

It can be very difficult, parenting kids with autism. There are so many issues that come up that wouldn’t normally come up if you had a typically developing kid. One of the troublesome ones can be toilet training. It can take some kids with autism years longer than their peers to learn how to use the toilet.

Fortunately, there are strategies that can help autistic kids.

It is common for parents of autistic kids to become frustrated when trying to get their loved ones to use the toilet. He just sits there and won’t do anything. Diapers can get bulky and annoying to change, and of course your autistic child needs to be toilet trained, in most cases, in order to be able to go to school.

Toilet training is one of the more difficult issues in parenting kids with autism, but luckily, there are a lot of parents who have gone before you. Here are some tips.

  1. Take one step at a time. First and foremost, when teaching kids with autism to use the toilet, you should break everything into small steps. This works best if your autistic child already has an understanding of what you use a toilet for. Some autistic kids have a lot of fear around a toilet. This could be because it’s so loud, or different, or even because they think they might fall in, but whatever it is, they need to know what the parts of the toilet are and parents may need to show them the different parts of the toilet in a low pressure environment. Parenting autism is not easy…but it does not have to be difficult either.
  2. Use physical rewards as encouragement. You will want to find some rewards that might be of interest your child with autism. These can be anything from cookies or some food treat to action figures or baseball cards. Choose anything that is small and that you can keep in the bathroom so that you can access it easily. Parents of kids with autism use these “reinforcers” to acknowledge a job well done and to say to your child that they have succeeded in the task at hand.
  3. Have patience. When parents bring their kids with autism into the bathroom, assume that you will stay for some time. Provide acknowledgement and praise if your autistic kid is willing to stay in the bathroom and does not want to leave. Provide a reward for staying close to the toilet. A good thing to do is to reward your child if he or she sits and stays on the toilet, even if they are doing nothing but sitting there! Remember, parenting kids with autism can be a slow and gradual process and you will eventually get there.
  4. Reward any step accomplished successfully. If there is an “accident” go to the toilet, remove your child’s pants and show him or her were the waste goes. This will help your child realize where the waste is supposed to end up. Remember, eventually your child will get the idea. Then let them flush the toilet and use toilet paper to clean. Each step that they accomplish gets them closer to the finish line. When parenting an autistic kid, each step, even if accomplished out-of-order, should be praised.

The goal is to gradually, step-by-step, build to your desired outcome. In other words, having your child use the toilet- and do the steps that lead up to it enough times that it will eventually sink into his head what he’s supposed to do.

You will of course want to be sure to reinforce your child if he uses the toilet in an appropriate way, and he will, eventually. Patience is the key to all problems involving parenting kids with autism.

The above suggestions for parenting kids with autism come from parents who have achieved success. Tips from other parents and professionals can be extremely helpful. A great book that has tips and suggestions for helping your child with autism is the The Autism Survival Guide. Parents rave about the useful advice the book offers.

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On a spiritual note…We tried different methods with our son and though we would have some success it just never seemed to click. So we asked God to show us a way to pray and believe for our son to come out of this drought that we were in for 8 years of him not being potty trained. Through a friend my husband Craig met named Mark Batterson we received his book “The Circle Maker.” It talks about how God wants us to pray bold prayers and believe that He is big enough to bring us out of whatever our drought was and into the abundance of rain. So we begin to draw our circle around Connor and pray bold prayers. At the same time we had heard of Dodie Osteen when she had cancer was given only a few weeks to live. She begin to take scriptures out of the Bible centered on healing and speak them everyday. She believes that the Word of God is so powerful that when it’s spoken over your life things can miraculously change. She was healed of cancer and her story has been told all over the world. One of the reasons she believes she was healed of cancer was because she spoke Gods Word specifically over her situation.

So we begin to pray bold prayers, used the tips above, and begin speaking healing scriptures everyday over our son Connor. One day shortly after we were all sitting in the living room and Connor for no apparent reason came in from the back yard, walked right by us, and went to the bathroom completely by himself. He has been going ever since. We believe in the tips we shared above but we also believe that when you’ve tried everything else give God a chance to do what no one else could do. Two books I would recommend is “Praying Circles Around Your Kids” coming out July 24th 2012 by Mark Batterson. Also, check out the “I AM’ declarations page on and you will see scriptures on healing that you can speak over your child everyday. If God can do it for us, He can do it for you. God bless you on your journey.

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