Autism Parenting Magazine: Managing Potty Training for Children with Autism

  (photo credit: UNSPLASH)
(photo credit: UNSPLASH)

Autism Parenting Magazine (APM) is an award-winning publication that has contributed significantly to the quality of life for families affected by autism. The people behind the magazine believe in the potential of every child with autism and are driven to write about the latest treatments, interventions, and real-life stories that inspire its circulation of subscribers. It’s no surprise that APM has become an essential resource for parents around the world, helping them make informed decisions on the latest management and treatment options. 

In this sense, APM aggregates and forms the basis of a strong community with an expanding network of autism-related resources. Autism is a life-long affliction and every stage of the life of a child on the spectrum presents its own unique challenges. What these children learn as toddlers and teenagers prepares them for the challenges of life as independent adults.

 A network of resources is essential to enable independent or supported living, whether by job coaching at work or living in a group home. It's why the magazine features well-researched articles from a host of contributors, including respected professionals and autism experts, that are aimed at all ages.

With hundreds of articles in its archive, APM serves as a useful repository for parents raising children on the spectrum and adults with autism to explore ways to deal with daily challenges. 

Early intervention is critical in ensuring that a child with autism is prepared for adulthood. Here, parents can find guides on ABA, behaviour management, managing stimming, and much more. One of the more challenging skills to teach a child on the spectrum is potty training. 

If training a normal child to use the potty can be hard, it's not hard to imagine what teaching a child with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) to use it would be like. “Autism Potty Training”, the well-put-together article by Dr Annette Nunez, provides a step-by-step guide for an effective approach to teaching the skill. 

The article emphasizes the need for parents and caregivers of children with autism not to be stressed over potty challenges. Body language plays a key role in managing these children, and with a lot of patience, structure, and reinforcement, toilet training can be accomplished in due time. What’s more important is making the process of learning to use the potty a positive experience—for both parents and kids with autism. 

Children with autism can be toilet trained as long as they do not suffer from any medical problems that prevent them from urinating or having a bowel movement. Before beginning the toilet training process, it is recommended that the child sees a paediatrician and confirms that there are no medical or urological problems. 

Symptoms may include foul-smelling urine, too much or too little urination, the inability to hold their bladder, visible discomfort during urination or bowel movement, abnormal stool, and painful or infrequent bowel movement. 

An often-asked question is the recommended age to start potty training for a child on the spectrum. There is no specific age to begin toilet training because every child has different needs and different skills. It is more pragmatic to focus on the child's skills instead. 

The Autism Potty Training Guide provides a primer of five questions to determine if a child with autism has the requisite skills to be potty trained. These skills include: having the fine and gross motor skills to carry out a toileting routine, the ability to pull down and pull up pants and underwear unassisted or with a bit of help, the capacity or inclination to imitate actions such as sitting on the toilet and wiping, the ability to identify and locate the bathroom in the home, and finally, if the child will willingly sit on the toilet seat or potty without resisting. 

Dr Nunez explains that once children with autism are ready for toilet training, they will begin demonstrating three signs of readiness. The first is that they show signs of discomfort having a wet or soiled diaper on and will either pull at it or try to take it off while vocalizing displeasure. The other indicators are that they will show interest in the toilet by sitting on it, flushing it, or watching an adult use it. 

At the time, they will lead an adult to the bathroom to get a clean diaper. When any of these signs surface, it's time to plan for potty training a child on the spectrum.

The process of toilet training takes a lot of thought and pre-planning, and failure to do so can lead to frustration for both parent and child. The guide recommends training be done in phases, with the first two stages being the Planning Phase and the Setting Up Phase. 

The planning phase entails gathering essential materials needed for a positive experience. These include getting a suitable potty seat, lots of underwear, a timer, wipes, visual cue cards and a good supply of the child's favourite drinks and salty foods. A basket filled with play items, such as toys and bubbles, adds an element of fun and can keep the child entertained while on the toilet. 

A reinforcement bin filled with the child's favourite candy treats, toys, stickers, and such is highly recommended as a reward after successfully using the restroom.

During the setting up phase, parents must designate one bathroom in the house that the child feels most comfortable using as the training bathroom. All the essential materials will then be placed strategically in the bathroom, with the visual sequence positioned visibly to reinforce what the child needs to do. The bin of goodies should be kept from sight until the task is completed.

Implementing the potty training phase requires structure, consistency and loads of patience. The more structured and consistent the environment is, the more a child with autism will be able to cope and adapt to it. It's recommended to set a start date and inform the child, verbally and visually, on a timetable when potty training begins.

To find out more about the Potty Training Guide, click the link:

About the Publication

Founded by Mark Blakey, Autism Parenting Magazine Ltd. is the leading publication for parents of autistic children with an international following. The online magazine has expanded and now offers virtual summits and courses for parents that struggle with special needs children. Daily, the people at Autism Parenting Magazine inspire and entertain its global audience through its social media posts. By providing informative content and autism resources, its goal is to improve the quality of life of families affected by autism.


Contact Details

Company Name: Autism Parenting Magazine Ltd.

Client’s Name: Mark Blakey

Address: Kemp House, 160 City Road, London, EC1V 2NX, United Kingdom

Support desk:

Phone: +44(0)203 290 9176


This article was written in cooperation with Autism Parenting Magazine