Potty Training the Autistic Child

So, you think it is time to potty train your son.  Great!  But, before we start, I have to ask, why are you sure he is ready?

Here are a few typical answers you might get:
“Well- he keeps hiding in a corner when he poops, and every time he pees, he grabs at his diaper.”
“He asked is he could use the potty.””He told me that he needed to go pee… so I think he is ready.”

I am sure there are more… but those are the ones that come to mind at the moment.

Well, I hate to burst your bubble, but when it comes to children with Autism, apparently none of those answers are right.  Instead, the answer is simple… “Because I have decided it is time.”

That’s right – when your child is Autistic, you let them know when they are ready to potty train, otherwise you could be waiting a looooooonnnnggg time for them to be ready.

From what Sam’s therapists tell me, one of the aspects of Autism is a weaker mind/body connection.  Many children on the spectrum don’t know that they are in control of when the pee or poo.  So, when you are ready to potty train them, you have to help them establish that connection.

What that means is you suddenly take them out of diapers, throw them into underwear and spend day after day trapped in or near your bathroom playing games and putting your child on the potty.

That pretty much sums up the past week around my house.  Sam loves his underwear.  He really really loves it.  At night, when he gets to wear a diaper, he cries because he wants his underwear on… so he is now sleeping with underwear over his diaper.

The first day of intensive potty training was a disaster.  Sam would sit on the potty no problem… he just would not do anything.  Instead, after 15 min of sitting on the potty Sam, within seconds of getting off, Sam would pee all over the floor.  15 times.

Day two was a little better.  He only peed on the floor 8 times.

On day 3, I got a good introduction to Sam’s stubborn streak.  We decided that as long as he was happy we would just let him continue to sit on the potty… for 50 minutes.  And even sitting there that long… nothing.  Five minutes after getting off the potty, Sam peed on the floor.

Thursday brought mild success.  After thirty minutes on the potty he finally went a little.  The celebration was loud and filled with chocolate.  Sadly, it was the only success for the day.

Friday saw two successes – and rewards of cookies and chocolate chips.  Today… today was even better.  After not pooping for 5 days, Sam pooped a little… on the potty.  That got him a small bowl of ice cream.

Needless to say, potty training Sam is NOTHING like potty training Irene.  With her, we told her she was done with diapers, she said OK… and she was done with diapers.

I do take the small successes this week in stride.  We started the week without Sam even knowing that he was the one that made the diaper wet.  Now, Sam will tell anyone that asks that “pee pee comes out of your penis and poo poo comes out of your booty”.

Small victories.

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