Potty training can be a challenge for typical children, but can be even more challenging for a child with Autism or a related disorder. This is because these children tend to have sensory issues, may not respond to social approval, and can become dependent on prompts which may prevent independent initiation.

At BCOTB we implement intensive, 36-hour toilet training programs for our clients who have been unsuccessful with potty training attempts in the past. This blog will provide some valuable potty training tips for children who are difficult to train.

In order for any child to be effectively potty trained, they must exhibit the following skills:

  • Independently pull their pants up and down
  • Can remain dry for at least an hour
  • Can sit appropriate for 3 minutes

If these skills have been met, then it may be time to begin the potty training process. The goals of an effective potty training program should include:

  • Independent self-initiation when access to the restroom is available.
  • Ability to eliminate on request, ability to request the restroom (vocally, sign language, etc.) when it is unavailable.
  • Ability to use restrooms that have not been trained.
  • Ability to stay dry throughout the night.

Since the first goal is the most difficult one to acquire, it is the first goal that should be targeted during the toilet training process. In order to meet this goal, the following steps should be taken:

  • Refrain from using a verbal prompting to get the child to go to the bathroom (i.e. don’t tell them to go or ask them if they have to go).
  • Begin the training by staying with the child in the restroom that is most familiar (close door or use baby gate) and have basic activities available.
  • Have the child only wearing a tight/short shirt so that their private area is visible during the initial stages of the training.
  • Provide as many fluids as possible to your child.
  • When they begin to eliminate, immediately provide physical prompts (pick them up direct them to the toilet).
  • If they finish eliminating on the toilet, immediately provide a valuable reinforcer to the child
  • If they do not, redirect them down do not provide any negative comments.
  • Attempt to fade your physical prompts until the child walks to the toilet independently to eliminate.
  • As the child becomes successful, you may begin to open the area in which they are allowed access.
  • If the child can initiate restroom use from anywhere in their home, begin fading in clothing.
  • Resume normal fluid intake.
  • Continue providing reinforcement until targeted skills are mastered and then begin fading it out overtime.


Once the child can successfully self-initiate in their home, the other potty training goals may be targeted. For more information on potty training tips, our intensive potty training program, or for specific questions related to potty training, please email us at info@bcotb.com. Good luck!

Published On: July 15th, 2012 / Categories: Blog, Learning /

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