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Home Resources Tool Kits Toilet Training Tool Kit Training Older Children

Toilet Training Older Children 

When is a Child Too Old for Toilet Training?

It is never too late to begin the toilet training process. Most children are continent by ages five to six years old. Some autistic children or other developmental challenges may be older before they begin toilet training. You may have tried toilet training at an earlier age without success for many different reasons. Whatever your child’s age, start at the beginning of this tool kit to determine readiness and then, based on your child’s level of understanding and skills, develop a toilet training plan.

If a child is functioning cognitively at less than two years of age, he may not be a good candidate for the typical toilet training process that requires awareness of the need to eliminate. Or, if a child is older and has not responded positively to establishing a toileting routine, he may benefit from habit training. Habit training involves regularly accessing the toilet on a set schedule based on your child’s elimination patterns. The goal is for using the toilet to become a learned behavior. For more information on Habit Training, see Part 5: Habit Training.

Toilet Training for Older Children

Toilet training the autistic older child, adolescent, or adult may be frustrating but achievable. As children get older, the social implications, isolation, physical demands, and hygiene issues become even more of a concern. As with young children, an assessment is important to identify patterns and to help set realistic goals for the individual with regard to teaching toward independence or to being able to follow a set toileting routine (i.e., habit training).

Strategies for older children include:

  • Identifying the times that the young person typically eliminates
  • Incorporating the pictures for toileting at these times in his visual schedule
  • Concentrating on first developing the habit of using the toilet. Some may eventually understand the expectations and be aware of the need to eliminate.
  • Using age-appropriate but comfortable and preferred clothing, materials, and rewards.
  • Using a First –> Then strategy to encourage following the toileting sequence to engage in a highly preferred activity afterward.
  • Rewarding small successes as the older child learns this new habit to replace the well established habit of using diapers.

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