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  • Writer's pictureJaqueline Mansaram

Teaching Toilet Training Skills to a Child with Autism: ABA Techniques for Achieving Success

If you have a child with autism, you already know that things can be challenging. Even routine tasks like toilet training can be a struggle. But it doesn’t have to be that way. That’s because there are many different ways to go about training your child with autism to use the toilet appropriately. And different children respond to certain methods better than others. And while some parents may cringe at the thought of potty training their child with autism, it doesn’t need to be as difficult as you think. With the right skills and techniques, your child will soon be using the toilet independently and without hesitation. Let's take a look at some of the best ways you can begin toilet training your child with autism.

Why is Toilet Training for Children with Autism so Important?

One of the most important life skills a child with autism will ever learn is how to use the toilet. This skill is not only important for their health and hygiene, but it is also necessary for the child to have an increased sense of independence. So, before you begin toilet training. Determine if your child and you are ready.

Ask yourself

  • Does your kid appear to notice or signal when their diapers are soiled or wet?

  • When they need to relieve themselves, does your child run away from you or hide?

  • Is your child's bowel movement regular, with no diaper soiling overnight?

If you answered yes to most of these questions, your child is most likely ready to be toilet trained.

ABA Techniques to Teach Toileting Skills

Reinforcement-Based Strategies to Teach Toilet Training Skills

There are many different strategies you can employ when toilet training a child with autism. These strategies can help your child to learn and master the skills needed to use the toilet independently. One effective method for toilet training a child with autism is to use a positive reinforcement system. Simply saying “Good job” will not be enough to make it worthwhile for your child to discard the diapers. If you’ve already got an ABA/Verbal Behavior

(VB) program in place, choose a special reinforcer that is used just for toileting. You could use a certain type of candy or a particular video. Since toileting is a difficult task, choose an item or activity that the child is crazy for, but doesn’t get frequently.

Here's a tip

Go to Dollar Store or hit up some clearance bins in Wal-Mart or Michaels. Make your child a “potty bag” from which the child can pick one when they’ve had a successful time in the bathroom. You should start by reinforcing and allowing the child to pick from the potty bag each time he has a toileting success but then may be able to fade the reinforcement by allowing him to pick at the end of a successful day or week.

Using Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) to Teach Toilet Training Skills

PECS is a picture-based form of communication that can be used to help your child learn new skills and acquire new abilities. One of the best ways to use PECS to toilet train your child is by making a toileting picture book. This will allow your child to have a visual representation of what the process of using the toilet entails. You can use these pictures to tell the story of how your child should go about using the toilet. For example, you can use a picture of the toilet, a picture of the sink, a picture of the bathtub, etc.

Tip: Make sure to have these pictures laminated so that they can be cleaned easily.

Another approach to utilize PECS cards is to have your child keep the card with the bathroom picture in his or her pocket for when it is time to use the restroom. You can also instruct your child to take the PECS card from his or her pocket and place it in an agreeable location. Maintain consistency in having your child place the PECS card in the location you've decided upon.

How Long Will It Take to Toilet Train

The duration of the toilet training process will vary from child to child. And it can also vary for each child when considering factors like their age, developmental level, and rate of progress. It is important to remember that every child is different. And when it comes to toilet training, there are no set rules or timelines. Some children may be fully trained in only a few days, while others may take weeks or even months. Toilet training should be viewed as a process and not an end goal. This means you can’t get frustrated or discouraged if your child isn’t fully trained after a certain period of time. Toilet training should be viewed as a journey. It should be approached as a process that is manageable and attainable. And it should be treated like a skill that can be learned through practice and consistency.


Toilet training is an important part of childhood development. It is a skill that every child must learn. This skill is not only important for their health and hygiene, but it is also necessary for the child to have an increased sense of independence. It can be a long and challenging process, but one that is well worth the effort. There are many different ways to go about the process. These include using positive reinforcement, PECS, and other strategies. If you have a child with autism, you can successfully toilet train them. You just have to be patient, consistent, and willing to try a few different methods.

Remember: Make it fun!

You can do this by turning on the radio, singing silly songs, using silly noises, or anything else that will make toilet training more enjoyable.

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