Toilet Training - Getting Started

The decision to begin toilet training is exciting, but can be a little intimidating. The road to a toilet trained child can long, stressful, and sometimes discouraging. However, toilet training your child will greatly improve his/her quality of life (and hopefully yours!). It will open the door to allow him/her to achieve and attain many things that may have been out of reach before, such as entering Kindergarten, fitting in with peers, going to camp, or even being accepted into a supported living facility.
It is never too late to toilet train. The older someone gets, the more challenging it may be due to their learning history, but it does NOT mean it is impossible. Autism and other developmental disabilities should not be viewed as a barrier. In fact, there are probably fewer obstacles in the way than you think.
There are different procedures to toilet train your child and deciding on which procedure(s) and creating a plan of action is a very important step. Some of these procedures include scheduled sit times and a procedure called Rapid Toilet Training (RTT) (Azrin and Foxx, 1971). If possible, consultation with professionals with ABA training, such as a behavior consultant or Board Certified Behavior Analyst would be helpful.
Despite what procedure you go with, the check list below will help you to get started:
  • Decide where the toilet training will take place. Will you designate a certain bathroom in your home? Will you use a portable child’s potty?
  • Decide who will be doing the toilet training. Will it mostly be you or will you enlist help from family, friends, or your other children? It’s important everyone is on the same page in regards to toilet training.
  • Decide when the toilet training will start and how long you will have available to dedicate your time (several hours per day). Over a long week or break from school are desirable times to start, but shouldn’t be the rule.
  • Gather several different rewards—this will be the most important step in your toilet training process. The rewards should be highly motivating and only used for toilet training. Having several choices will help keep the items motivating.
  • Ditch the diapers—Yes, no more diapers or pull-ups (there are some exceptions, including sleeping times and possibly travel). This is another essential step.
  • Gather additional supplies—cleaning wipes/paper towels, a timer (timer on phone or kitchen timer), several pairs of underwear and additional spare clothing. Consider the following items that will likely be very helpful—data sheet to track progress and activities for the child to do child while sitting, reward/sticker charts to show progress, and even an activity for you (as well as a reward for yourself!).
Online consultation with a Board Certified Behavior Analyst:
Azrin, N. H., & Foxx, R. M. A rapid method of toilet training the institutionalized retarded.
Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 1971, 4, 89-99.

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