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Springtide seeks to reimagine the way individuals receive autism therapy and support. Learn what makes us different and how are results stack up against the competition.

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Springtide provides 1:1, personalized therapies, including ABA, speech, occupational and physical therapies. In addition, we offer social skills classes, functional living skills training, school readiness training, language acquisition and family coaching.

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We believe in a world where autism care isn't so complicated. We make it easy to get started with Springtide. After our initial call and intake, we carry the torch and do the heavy lifting for you.

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Our mission is to be the partner for families on their journey. We offer a wealth of resources to our current parents, as well as free resources for the community.

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7 Tips to Potty Train a Child With Autism

Any parent will tell you one of the most overwhelming tasks in the early childhood years is potty training. When a child has been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), the task can become even more difficult.

Toilet training involves multiple skills at once: recognizing the need to use the bathroom, communicating when they need to do so, following the bathroom routine, and adjusting to all of its sensory components. Yet, in order to gain further independence and an increased quality of life, potty training is an essential step.

Though it may take a little longer to master for some, for the majority of the children we work with at Springtide, potty training is something that can be accomplished with the right support, consistency, and patience.

1. Assess Their Readiness

Every child is unique, and as a result, there is no perfect potty training age. As a parent of a child with autism, you are extremely familiar with your child’s strengths as well as their limitations. Prior to toilet training, ask yourself:
  • Is your child able to communicate a need in some way? This could be verbal, with a gesture, a picture, or through an AAC device. 
  • Do they have the necessary motor skills such as pulling pants up and down or wiping?
  • Do they mind the feeling of being wet?
  • Do they understand cause and effect, such as “If I do this…this happens”?
This checklist can give you a good idea of whether or not you should start preparing to potty train.

2. Teach the Necessary Communication Skills

An essential part of learning to use the bathroom is the need to ask for help, which for some children with autism is a difficult skill. Because of that, work with your child’s BCBA and RBT to explicitly teach them how to communicate their needs.

Consider the method of communication that works best for the child. Maybe they will use a Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) and need the potty icon available. Maybe they will learn to say the word “potty”, even if it doesn’t sound exactly like it. Think about making a card with a picture of a potty they can hand to you when necessary. And, as with any child, prompt them to use the toilet at regular intervals in the early stages.

3. Prepare With Visuals

Children, and especially those on the autism spectrum, tend to respond to visual instruction more than being read or told instructions. Making a visual chart that explains the bathroom routine would be very effective, especially if you had your child participate in making it. Making a photoshoot day to practice all the steps then printing pictures of themselves for the chart can be a fun and exciting way to introduce the experience. Social stories would also be an ideal tool to use here

Prior to potty training, put together a countdown calendar with visuals to help prepare your child for the major transition they are about to embark on. Ask them to cross out the date at the end of each day, and count how many days are left until it’s time to say goodbye to diapers!

4. Create a Positive Environment

Potty training can quickly and easily become a stressful process for everyone involved. Try your best to keep the experience a positive one. 

Use simple reinforcers like m&m’s or stickers only earned by using the potty. Set up a comfortable environment near the potty by including some favorite books or toys. Keep a consistent, nonjudgmental tone, especially when accidents occur. Stay matter-of-fact for any setbacks and celebrate their victories.

5. Keep Records of the Process

Especially in the beginning days, track each time they use the bathroom. Make sure you write the time down. After some time, a pattern will develop, and you will be better able to predict bathroom trips. Share this chart with your child’s BCBA or RBT to update them on your progress.

6. Consider Potential Fears

The setbacks a child faces during the potty training process can usually be attributed to a fear. Flushing, for instance, can be frightening, especially for a child who struggles with loud noises anyway. Some face new fears when they transition from the small training potty to the regular household one. Others hold in bowel movements out of hesitation and fear.

Try your best to remain empathetic of these fears, and then find solutions to them. If your child needs to request a diaper for bowel movements only for a time, or hold it for the nighttime diaper, let them for the time being. If flushing is the problem, consider bringing headphones or asking them to leave the bathroom and flushing the toilet yourself. You are motivating and guiding your child, but following their pace at the same time.

7. Reach Out For Help

Part of our goal with ABA therapy is to give your child more independence in order to live a more fulfilling life. Potty training is an integral help, and we are here to help. We will reinforce your plan while they are with us, and work together with you to formulate a plan specific to your child. 

When you prepare ahead of time, and stay both consistent and patient, you will find success; but, as in many things with a child with autism, bringing in your village makes it that much easier. If you are looking for more information on potty training a child on the autism spectrum, and you would like our help, reach out on our website, email us at hello@myspringtide.com, or call us at 888-260-1609.

Reach out today and speak with one of our enrollment specialists to get started with Springtide

Resources

Springtide Child Development was awarded an Award of Distinction with The Behavioral Health Center of Excellence (BHCOE) and is a member of The Council of Autism Service Providers (CASP). These awards celebrate exceptional special needs providers that are leading the way in the areas of clinical quality, staff satisfaction, qualifications, and consumer satisfaction.
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