Potty training a toddler with Autism:

Could anything else be more frustrating?  Maybe. I am not sure; but I will let you know if I find anything that takes more time and patience!

I am sure everyone has heard all the same stories I did: "We did it over a long weekend before he started day care.", "She just woke up one day and said, I want to use the potty and wear princess underwear.",  "They just need to be naked outside for a couple days.", "It took a long time, probably an entire month!", and most of all "When he is ready, he will just do it on his own."  I am not sure if these people were just amazingly lucky?  Or if that is something I have to look forward to with Danny hopefully?!  Or maybe they are full of bologna or fuzzy memories?

I heard comments from the other end as well; wondering when I would have him potty trained already.  **For goodness sake, their kids were out of diapers by the time they turned two!**  I wished those people could have been in my shoes.  I'd have wished them heaping loads of luck before I left them to work their potty magic!

I have only had the joy of toilet training one child so far.  That's all the experience I can draw from.  However, I have a feeling that surely it's possibly more difficult to toilet train a toddler with Autism.  With Kekito I tried several times to see if he was ready.  We had issues of not having the language skills needed, resistance to change, and sensory issues (in this case, not caring at all if he sat in poop for hours).

When he started preschool at the public elementary school we had to start potty training him at home, because that is the school policy.  Thankfully his teachers wonderfully and willingly helped out at school and communicated any progress & set backs really well. 

I tried at first to use the "M&M reward" system.  Then gummies.  Then stickers.  Our big problem was that Kekito thought they were sooo awesome that he wanted them ALL the time... for doing nothing.  We had huge fits, fights, and meltdowns over "needing candy/stickers".  All it did was associate stress with potty time, for both of us!

My sister and friends (who were also potty training) used toys as incentives and suggested I try the same.  I went out and bought matchbox cars and Thomas trains.  I showed Kekito and explained the reward system.  Another no-go.  "I need the cars.  I need them now!"  So I tried showing them to him, explaining and then stashing them. Kekito didn't seem to understand the abstract thought of getting a reward with out seeing an example all the time.  

So finally after wracking my brain, I decided a chart like this may just do the trick!:

Print your own 20 sticker chart
And boy did it work!  He was able to see what his prize was but with out having an actual package there (or memory of seeing the package) taunting him; begging to be ripped open. He started being excited enough about going to get a star on the chart that the change in routine wasn't as scary.  Not having the prize teasing him also took out the stress and pressure!
We started with a small number of stars and a big reward.  Then as he really started to get a hang of it, we increased the number of stars to earn and the toys got smaller and smaller (and phased out completely after 5 charts); like this:
Print your own 36 sticker chart

Having the reward/chart system worked wonders for us.  Hopefully it may help you or someone you know too!  It still took about 4 months of practice before we became nearly 100% accident free.  We have diapers at night still, but during the day he is finally accident free!  Yay Kekito!! :) Even with a recent bought with diarrhea, we have held on strong with no accidents!

One other cruical tip (in my opinion): Take them to sit on the toilet at regular intervals until they learn the feeling of needing to go.  I made the mistake at first of asking, "Do you need to go potty?"  The answer was always no.  But between sitting every hour and getting stars, it all worked out!  Eventually he liked being dry and clean and started going on his own as needed.

Google Docs won't import my star shadows, and I am not seeing a way to add them in there.  If you have Microsoft Excel at home and would like me to email you my chart for you to use and customize yourself (complete with star shadows ;] ) email me at: the1sublimelife@gmail.com


Susan in the Boonies said...

That is awesome!!! Yea, Mom, for finding something that worked, AND for sharing it with others!!!

I have no doubt that this will help someone in need!

MarfMom said...

This is great! The visuals are really helpful. I'm going to email this out to one of the autism parenting lists I'm on.

Sublime Dream said...

@MarfMom- I am so glad the pics helped- I had a feeling my long winded self could only be so clear on twitter! =)