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Autism and Potty Training: How to Succeed?

July 11, 2016


My daughter has been struggling with toilet training, even though other children her age have already made this transition. Should I keep her in diapers or insist that she learn to go to the bathroom the same way other children her age do?


Autism and potty training can be hard. But don’t let your daughter’s struggle keep you from teaching her appropriate behavior. The following advice can help.

Toileting Tips:

Have a reward that you can withhold and offer only when your child uses the toilet appropriately. Make it a priority. Consistency is key, as well as having the time to complete the process. Do not start a toileting plan at a busy time or when you cannot adhere. Give up a vacation week to really hammer it out.

Encourage him/her to drink a lot. Offering salty snacks may help.

Take your child to the bathroom regularly to present frequent opportunities to go.

At nighttime, remember to bring the child to the bathroom before bed, and then again before you, as parents, go to bed. This decreases the length of time until the morning and should decrease overnight accidents.

When he or she does use the toilet, give enthusiastic praise and the designated reward.

If an accident happens, immediately put the child on the potty to indicate where they are supposed to go. Have him/her sit for at least a few minutes so that he/she can finish in the toilet, if necessary.

If you have trouble initially, get your child involved in the cleanup process. This helps the child experience the accident and provides extra motivation for him/her to stay dry and clean. If the parent is the only one cleaning up, the child has no motivation to avoid an accident in the first place.

As your child gets better at using the toilet, slowly limit the rewards and liquids. For example, maybe now he/she has to use the toilet twice before earning the special reward, then three times, until the practice becomes normal and the reward is no longer needed.

Father playing with his little girl at home Father playing with his little girl at home