Starting of a potty training regime with your child can be a bit terrifying for you, but teaching a child with an autism condition can be even more challenging. This challenge can be even uphill if your child is suffering from a speech or non-verbal communication problem. Autism is a term not everyone is well versed in. This condition comes with a host of other underlying issues such as social interaction difficulties, behavioral disturbances, Flat and dull speech, eye contact avoidance, little to no communication and lots more.
You may ask, what exactly causes Autism or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)? Well this still remains a mystery to everyone as researcher still haven’t found definite cause of it. However, it is suspected to be caused by abnormalities in the brain structure and it function, mostly linked to genetics.
In as much as there is a whole lot of truth in the fact that children suffering from autism need extra attention it in also not impossible to treat as normal children. It is just all dependent on how you choose to school him and handle his irregular behaviors. It is very possible for them to learn anything under the sun if you follow all the right formulas and methods.
How to go along with training an autistic child; Just go at it by following simple and easy steps, then the potty training challenge can be overcome with no qualms. Do take not though that autistic children tend to take longer to grasp at things, so you will need to exercise some patience when dealing with one. The problem may even escalate if or when the child has verbal communication problems. So be sure to have a proper structure in place that you can follow right from the start of your training to ensure success. It is very doable!
Here are a few steps you may want to follow when starting off your training exercise;
- You may need to start off with some visual training; Remember with autistic children less is more so you will need to go easy on them, don’t push them to hard. The visual exercise is always your best bet when dealing or handling with kids. You get color pictures with very simple and easy to understand language.
Then align them in an easy to follow step by step, breaking them down to steps that your child may find easy to follow. Examples of these easy steps could : 1) Telling him to sit on the toilet, 2) Show him how to wipe with toilet paper 3) Tell him to flush the toilet 4) Show him how to wash his hands. Then as you go along you can add on a few more tips such taking off and putting back on the pants.
But remember that autistic children are generally slow learners so you may need to repeat all these steps over and over again until they can get it. Patience is very key so don’t get frustrated if at first he still doesn’t understand the process, just give him a bit more time and soon he will get it
- Next step would be to move him straight into wearing underwear; Start him off with underwear, even though you may think it’s rather too soon for this but wearing of underwear is an important component of potty training. You may be considering to use pull-ups because of their super absorbency feature, but don’t fall for that trap because if you allow him to use these regularly then he will never be able to realize when he is urinating.
If you make him wear his underwear, sure enough he may pee or poop on it which may irritate his little sensitive skin but you need him to feel this little discomfort so that he develops the sensation of needing to use the bathroom should the urge to use it arises. So the next time he will not repeat that mistake of peeing and pooping on himself. Instead he will look to you for a better solution.
- Keep calm and don’t yell at him whenever he has an accident; Remember that autistic children are a bit more slower than normal children so he is most likely to repeat the same mistake over and over. Try not to yell at them for their repeat mistakes but instead remind him over and over how he needs to use the bathroom whenever he feels the urge to go.
Whip out that visual colorful chart that you had created earlier to jog his memory and also tempt him into using the toilet. Being calm and encouraging will help him learn a bit more quicker than you may have anticipated.
- Keep him motivated by giving him rewards for any successful toilet trips; Be vigilant and observing of your child’s behavior shifts, always be on the look out at his attempts to use the toilet. Also you need to figure out all the good things that keep him motivated and quickly give them to him to help keep him on track.
It could candy, toys etc. So make a note of any of these rewards to give out for good behavior. Make he desire more rewards by rewarding every successful bathroom trip. This is a very constructive way for him to learn faster and also make good on the rewards.
It is evident that fast rewards lead to quicker skill attainment, so it very vital to reward him immediately after a successfully executed task. You can also get him more amped up adding pictures of the chocolates and toys that he loves so much on the visual chart that you created for him.
- Do give him a reward for each attempt at communicating; Autistic children with non-verbal problems have a very big challenge at communicating, so giving him a reward at any attempt at communicating with you about wanting to use the toilet will encourage him to want to do more, which will help him learn faster.
Try as much as possible to keep the communication lines open, your child should be super comfortable around you at all times. Also observe your child’s accident patterns, for an example you may notice that your child will pee may be an hour after he has had a meal, so you can use this to schedule his bathroom visits. It is an open secret that other autistic children may be completely unresponsive so do your best to reward for child for taking that step towards trying to communicate with you.
- Always give your child a chance to communicate with you; As soon as you have observed how flexible your child is at using the toilet whenever you take him there, Then it is time to develop his skills a bit more further. It is time to now teach him signs and symbols that will help you see that it is time to go use the bathroom. For an verbal autistic children the best way to teach him is by using finger signs, although you are not limited to this another option would be to show him where to point at whenever he feels a strong urge for the bathroom.
You could also get one of those assisted communication devices to simplify things even further, with this you can integrate the pictures of his needs. It could be his favorite toy, food the bathroom or anything that you feel your child may want to communicate, so when he presses any of those pictures you will get an audible request of his needs. Also sometimes an autistic child may use other gestures to communicate their needs, one such way he may do this is by looking at the bathroom door with intent, just be on the look out for these small cues so you may help your child succeed.
It is quite alright to get professional help as well; After you have exhausted all your efforts and still feel that you and your child are not hitting the ground running, your child is consistently making mistakes and this is tugging at your heart’s strings because of all the frustration you are faced with.
You may need to seek professional assistance from an autism savvy behavior therapist, they will know exactly how to deal with autism behavioral problems and will be able to assist you in getting your child potty trained quicker.
Children suffering from autism are never easy to toilet train, which can be a very stressful time or period in most parents lives. Be that as it may be don’t despair potty training an autistic child is very doable! You just need to exercise some bucket loads of patience and carefully following the above steps that we have shared above to help you along on you and your child’s journey to independence. Above all else it is very important to start you child on a potty training program exercise when they are fully ready to begin, also have your behavior autism therapist assess him to help you understand any behavior problems he may be facing.