Autism and Toilet Training
For many, the experience of toilet training, can be a difficult challenging experience for both parent and child. Planning for the toilet training process together with priming (pre-teaching) your child will most certainly help to reduce anxieties felt by children and lessen the pressure parents place on themselves.
The reality is, the ability to toilet independently is a monumentally complex life skill to attain. Sometimes in that haze of pressure we create for ourselves, we forget to think logically as parents. Toilet training is a process, it is not one “single” skill, it is a series of skills that must be acquired and retained by a willing student (your child).
Before the commencement of the actual toilet training process it is useful to pre-teach some crucial toilet training concepts to your child. If your child is autistic, pre-teaching may support their understanding of the concepts, expectations and realities of toilet training that prior to the pre-teaching (priming) stage may not have been considered or indeed understood by the child.
Here are just a sampling of the concepts your child should understand before toilet training begins. Ideally you would pre-teach the following concepts before toilet training begins. You may find that you are already in the midst of toilet training your son or daughter and now challenges are arising, such as understanding the difference between wet or dry.
In this post I will provide some sample activities you may like to try with your child. As always with autism, we individualise our activities to the unique individual we are supporting.
I have also created a FREE Wet/DRY Match & Sort Printable you can use as part of your pre-teaching of concepts activities. You can access your Free Printable at the end of this post.
Autism Toilet Training Concepts
Teaching Wet or Dry
Use everyday activities to teach the difference between wet and dry. If your child struggles to understand the difference between wet and dry, consider providing opportunities throughout the day wherein you can teach incidentally. Below you find a list of everyday activities and opportunities wherein you can garner your child’s attention and teach the difference between wet and dry.
Wet or Dry Activities
- Using a watering can to water plants
- Washing the dishes (wet), then using a tea towel to “dry” the dishes
- Wet sponge toss – pick a target and practice throwing the sponges at the target
- Jumping muddy puddles
- Painting outside with water on the ground or walls. Watching as the water disappears when it is “dry”
- At the beach standing in the water and later drying off
- Washing body and later drying the body with a towel
- Water change colouring books (available in Tesco)
- Playing in the rain without an umbrella and later with an umbrella
- Picture Match and Sort “Wet or Dry”
You can download your FREE Printable here.
Wet & Dry Try On Activity
An activity that worked for me in teaching my sons the difference between wet & dry was the “Wet & Dry Try On” activity. I bought coloured underwear for the boys. Taking two pairs, I wet one pair of underpants around the crotch area, the other pair of underpants I did not dampen with water, it remained “dry”.
I encouraged my son to try on the wet pair, and I gently reminded him that the underwear was “wet”. He placed his hand on the wet pair. I said “wet” underpants. He then took them off and tried on the “dry” underpants. I said “dry” underpants and he touched the underpants to feel the dryness.
I then lay both the wet (with water) underpants on the ground and beside it I lay the “dry” underpants. I asked him to show me the “wet” underpants. With prompting he picked out the wet. We continued on and eventually he began to pick out the correct “wet” underpants or the “dry” underpants depending on which I was requesting.
Every time he picked out the correct underpants, I gave huge praise and hugs. I also rewarded with a favourite edible treat, in Jack’s case a blue smarty and in Conor’s case it was a Monster Munch crisp.
Teaching Dirty and Clean
Similarly to the above noted “Wet and Dry” activities, you can teach the difference between dirty and clean using everyday activities as teachable moments. Activities you may like to try:
- Washing toys at the sink so that they are “clean”
- Dry erase marker on a laminate sheet of paper to represent “dirty” and then a damp cloth to “clean” off the dry erase
- Chalk on the chalk board (to represent dirty) then a damp colour to “clean” the blackboard.
- Helping to wash a pet
- Washing a doll in a doll bath so he/she is clean
- Washing dirty clothes
- Washing hands after an arts & crafts activity.
- Washing hands before eating
If you require Toilet Training Visual Supports to help your child on their toilet training journey, click on the image below and they will bring directly to Toilet Training Visual Supports I have designed.
Until next time,