Milestones Autism Resources

4853 Galaxy Parkway, Suite A
Warrensville Heights, OH 44128

Phone: (216) 464-7600

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Getting Started

What to Consider Before Getting Started

Before you begin, it helps to gather information about the following areas:

  • medical concerns
  • toileting patterns using the Elimination Patterns and Daily Intake form
  • communication skills
  • sensory needs
  • toileting skills your child may already have
  • any supports your child will need

Assessing where your child is in these areas can help you find the best place to begin.
Read our Getting Started Assessment.

When to Start Toilet Training

Deciding when to start toilet training can be challenging. Typically, toilet training occurs between eighteen months and four years of age. However, chronological age is not an exact indicator of toilet training readiness. Some children with autism have a developmental age that is different from their chronological age that needs to be taken into consideration when deciding when to begin toilet training.

Generally, toilet training is most successful when both the child and the adults are ready.
Signs of a child’s readiness may include:

  • interest in the bathroom and curiosity in flushing the toilet, playing with toilet paper, etc.
  • desire to observe others using the bathroom
  • reports of a soiled diaper and/or asking to wear underwear
  • anger when diaper is soiled
  • starting to have periods of dryness and being able to “hold it”

Some children may not show signs of readiness; others may appear disinterested or even resistant. In these instances, parents often decide the best time to begin toilet training. In any case, toilet training for autistic children involves the development of a specific routine, a schedule, and a reinforcement system.

Typically, the goal of toilet training is to teach the child to be aware of the need to eliminate and to independently access the toilet. If this is not realistic for your child, habit training may be a better toilet training technique. Through habit training, accessing the toilet becomes a learned behavior. The child creates a new habit of eliminating in the toilet versus in the diaper. By repeating the toileting routine over and over as part of a structured schedule, the goal is for the child to develop bladder and bowel control and more independent access of the toilet. Habit Training is described in Part 5.

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