Your typical style and timeline of toilet training may not be suitable for our kids with communication or developmental delays. They may not be able to say when they have to go or motivated to try. Here are some tips and tricks to help at home to know when to begin and how:
- Look for signs they are motivated:
Our non-verbal children may not be able to communicate but some signs they are ready to try include pulling their pants up/down by themselves, they are hiding to go poop, and showing discomfort when wet. If they show these signs, have them assist you with clean up and disposing solids into toilet and have them flush and wash hands.
- Put them in underwear:
Some children if wearing diapers may not realize they are wet. If their underwear are soiled, the child may become more aware of the discomfort and associate it to the accident. It also may take a while for children to get use the sensation of wearing underwear so give them time to get used to them. Give them a choice on pattern and designs to let them feel independent with the choice. You can focus on daytime training and once that is achieved, focus on nighttime training.
- Communicate with less words:
Less is more with some of these kids, including words! Use simple commands like “time to potty” vs. “Do you need to go potty now?”. Visual supports can be useful as well to visually see steps and sequence appropriately. For older children leaning to potty train, social stories can help identify challenges and managing emotions within different environments such as school or at a friend’s house.
- Make toileting fun and enjoyable:
You want to be sure you reward your child for the desired behaviors no matter how small, either with a preferred treat or toy. Use ‘first/then’ statements such as “first toilet, then [reward]” in order for child to understand directions. If you are home with the child, increased their fluid intake, that way you can reward them for tinkling too.
- Make it routine:
Make a schedule of times child tends to urinate or have a bowel movement so you can build a routine. You can set a timer to let your child know when they can be done with the task. It can take up to 3 weeks to turn this into a habit so don’t give up!
- Sensitivity to sounds:
Some children may demonstrate sensory sensitivity to either the sounds of the toilet or washing hands. When learning, have the child use hand wipes to clean and flush after they leave the room. As they get more comfortable with the routine, introduce independence of flushing and washing hands.
Occupational therapists are trained in promoting independence with daily routines, specifically toilet training and can help provide guidance on how to master this task. Typically, children will begin to show interest around 18-24 months, which can be delayed with kids who may have Autism or other developmental delays.
If these techniques are not working or the sensory concerns are too overwhelming for your child, come see us at Chatterbox to further assess your concerns and your child’s skills.