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Potty Training a Special Needs child....
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shantel575 Original Post: Feb 14 '07,  1:36 pm           Reply
Reviews written: 343
Member since: Jun 28, 2000

Post: 109517
Potty Training a Special Needs child....

I know there are other moms here that have special needs children. My oldest son (who has Asperger's) was a challenge when it came to potty training but after 3 attempts he finally got the hang of it right before he turned 3. I was very happy with that result, all things considered.

Now we have my younger son... who turned 3 in November. My goal was to have him trained by age 3 like his brother. I thought that was reasonable and it allowed plenty of time without going through all the stress we did last time.

So, like I said, he's now 3 yrs and 2 months old and he's nowhere NEAR the point of training. He has some "issues" going on, to which we don't know the full extent yet, but he doesn't speak yet. He says a few words (easy or fun things HE wants to say like "hey, thank you, juice, silly" and he can say letters and numbers) But as for talking in 2 word phrases or sentences... nada. If he wants something he pulls me to it and points or puts my hand on it. That's how he communicates. I've sat him on the potty several times thinking that if he SAW for himself what to do that he might *get* it. Well, that hasn't worked either because he just sits there. He has NO idea what to do and it hasn't just happened either, even after giving him books to make him sit for 5-10 minutes.

So now I'm in the dilemma of.... what do I do now? Do I keep trying and running myself ragged in the process or do I let it go and wait until he can verbalize with me about it? He just started the pre-k program in the school system here and will be getting speech therapy so hopefully that will start helping. They also work with kids who aren't potty trained yet which is great but I dont' think they have started with him yet since he's still adjusting to being in school period.

Another problem is, he is a peeing machine! He is ALWAYS wet. Always. I've tried to catch him a little while after a diaper change to see if he's dry so I can put him on the potty and see if he'll go. That hasn't worked yet and I've been trying it for months. He's NEVER dry. ONE TIME he was dry and it had been a while since a diaper change so I hastily removed his diaper and rushed to the bathroom and by the time I got the diaper in the trash and turned around to pick him up, he had pee'd all over the floor! UGH! So that one potential moment was ruined. He doesn't drink a lot of fluids either so it's not like I can cut back on that. He drinks a cup of milk at breakfast and at dinner and a cup of juice at lunch and one after nap time or at snack time. That's 4 sippy cups per DAY. I think that is a pretty normal amount for a 3 year old so I don't know how he pees so much!

Anyway, if anyone can offer advice or experience I would appreciate it!

Shantel (who doesn't want her son going to Kindergarten in diapers)

mmcphee Posted: Feb 15 '07,  5:22 pm           Reply
Reviews written: 1436
Member since: Oct 14, 2003

moderator in Education
Post: 109991
RE: Potty Training a Special Needs child....

I hate to see an unanswered question, but I don't really have any advice. If he is still adjusting to school I would say maybe wait until they start working with him. Maybe the "peer pressure" will get him interested and then focus at home at the same time.


marytara Posted: Feb 16 '07,  9:04 am (Updated: Feb 16 '07,  9:10 am)           Reply
Reviews written: 1106
Member since: Apr 2, 2001

Post: 110158
RE: Potty Training a Special Needs child....

Hey girl,

Feel free to email me or pick up the phone too if its easier.

I've been thru this with Alex... he trained at like 3 1/2 which was actually considered to be "early" compared to a lot of his peers.

Anyways... I hear ya. I know exactly what you are going through. And, I hope can help.

First of all - I wrote an exhaustive essay about this that I'm sure you read years ago when I posted it. At the risk of being deleted.. I'll post the link here since its to an editorial and so its not like its raking in any income share. http://www.epinions.com/content_4025262212

Have you taught him the sign for Potty? (Plus this comes in handy when you are out and about and you don't want to embarass an older child by saying HEY DID YOU NEED TO POOP?)

What about using PECS? We used a picture card for Potty that I actually put on a little necklace with velcro. Put the same picture card on the door of the bathroom. When he had to go, he would give me the card.

And then we had visual charts with all the steps on the wall of the bathroom (in fact, still have them) and also used social stories. If you need some examples, I can email them to you.

Does he like movies with singing and stuff? There is a really cheesy potty training movie called "I Gotta Go" that kids seem to like the music in and maybe that would motivate him.

Does he notice that he's wet or care? Once we said bye bye to pull-ups entirely and switched to the cotton training pants Alex trained really quickly. He didn't want to be WET. If he isn't noticing that he's wet or seeming to care, then maybe he isn't ready.

As far as school - I would definitely take them up on helping you. Find out what the protocol is that they use and you can start to do the same thing. I know that at my son's preschool they did one thing (Fox & Azrin), and then this year in the beginning of the year (kindie) they sent home a different protocol (but since he'd been trained for 3 years already it didn't matter!) based on ABA with dry checks and such.

Hope that helps - email me anytime!!


shantel575 Posted: Feb 16 '07,  1:01 pm           Reply
Reviews written: 343
Member since: Jun 28, 2000

Post: 110223
RE: Potty Training a Special Needs child....

Thanks! I need to re-read that editorial for sure.

His speech therapist tried teaching him sign language (and so did I) about a year ago and he just thought it was a game. He just won't do it to communicate. He'd rather take me by the hand and pull me somewhere and point to what he wants. So that is probably how he'll tell me he needs to potty once he learns.

I am not sure if they are doing PECS with him at school or not. I know the system is in the classroom for other kids but I'm not sure if they've started doing it with him. I need to find out if they are or if they plan to, and how they go about potty training.

As for caring if he's wet.... he couldn't care less! His diaper can be so wet that it's falling off and he ignores it! AHHHHHHHHH! LOL


marytara Posted: Feb 16 '07,  5:57 pm           Reply
Reviews written: 1106
Member since: Apr 2, 2001

Post: 110313
RE: Potty Training a Special Needs child....

ooooh I love your new hair!

Definitely get on board with whatever plan the school is going to do and start doing it at home.

As far as PECS/SIGN - Alex used both for a bit as his language was emerging. By the time he entered preschool here in NJ (he was 3 and change) they phased out the PECS and just used sign and then shortly after his language exploded. Now we just use sign for emergencies and when we want to "private talk" in public places. The PECS and visual schedules were a huge help.

And as far as going off to kindergarten untrained. Hey, it happens sometimes with kids. But I'm betting he'll get trained this year for you in school. If you think about it - many many neurotypical ("normal") kids don't get trained til they are 3 1/2 and so its understandable that a child with special needs and communication challenges will just take a little longer.

Sending patience, laughter, and smiles your way.



shantel575 Posted: Feb 16 '07,  6:12 pm           Reply
Reviews written: 343
Member since: Jun 28, 2000

Post: 110319
RE: Potty Training a Special Needs child....

*sigh* thanks hun!

I know they used the PECS with my oldest when he went into the pre-k special program and it worked well for him because he was soooooooooooo routine oriented that it gave him that security of knowing what was going to happen next.

My youngest doesn't seem to care about routine so I don't know if he'd be interested in the system or not. I'll have to ask if they are trying to use it with him or not. I saw the boards in the room the other day so they are using it with other kids I assume.

KMINER Posted: Feb 17 '07,  11:03 am           Reply
Reviews written: 1190
Member since: Jan 17, 2000

moderator in Kids & Family
Post: 110415
RE: Potty Training a Special Needs child....

Quote: mmcphee
I hate to see an unanswered question, but I don't really have any advice. If he is still adjusting to school I would say maybe wait until they start working with him. Maybe the "peer pressure" will get him interested and then focus at home at the same time.


Shantel - that's what I was thinking too.

I haven't worked with young children with special needs though - so my thinking is in part just guesses.

Joshua seems to pick up on things visually so maybe seeing the other kids at school "do it" will motivate him? Especially kids his age and size?

kbolton72 Posted: Mar 01 '07,  9:03 pm (Updated: Mar 01 '07,  9:05 pm)           Reply
Reviews written: 370
Member since: Jan 28, 2001

Post: 113049

My son Caleb has PDD-NOS as well, and it took him alot longer just like your youngest.

With my son, he just didn't have the motor planning skills to run to the potty when he felt he had to. For your sake, just take it slow, one day at a time, and have new expectations, because even boys without speech delays can take longer to use the potty.

Do you have a portable dvd player by any chance? As an incentive, you could allow him to watch a show while attempting #2, or give him a sensory toy to play with when he tries to use the bathroom. Are you using pull ups at all? I know that my son responded very well to praise, constant and consistant praise, but that is him! It was so long ago, I am trying to remember! He still uses overnights whilehe sleeps, because he has destroyed wuite a few mattresses, but other than that, he is completely trained.

Just breathe, and keep a record of changes, because once he catches on, he is on!! :)

theirmom Posted: May 08 '07,  11:08 pm           Reply
Reviews written: 0
Member since: May 8, 2007

Post: 126898
RE: Potty Training a Special Needs child....

Hi, I feel your pain. Our daughter was recently diagnosed with Asperger's. I hate to tell you this but she is four and has NO interest potty training. She would hold her stool to the point of sweating, clenching and even crying so we saw a doctor. Emmy is doing better now, she rarely holds her stool now but still doesn't want to potty train. Her doctors have all said don't force it, I did and that's when she started holding her stool. I forced it again and she would hold her urine. So my advice,don't force it. I just bought these potty charts though and will entice her with things she love, dinosaurs. Also, I think he could use more water. Sound strange but might help. Good luck.

namma Posted: Feb 16 '10,  9:57 am           Reply
Reviews written: 0
Member since: Feb 16, 2010

Post: 250132
Thankful for your question

I am glad you asked this question. I am raising my grandson who was recently diagnosed with aspergers and I cannot seem to get him potty trained. We have made some headway with pee pee in the potty, however he refuses and has never gone #2 in the potty.

He does have a significant speech delay and attends pre-school in the mornings and potty trainin is on his IEP. My pediatrician also says not to rush him. It makes me feel better to know others are facing the same situation.

marytara Posted: Feb 18 '10,  8:20 pm           Reply
Reviews written: 1106
Member since: Apr 2, 2001

Post: 250256
RE: Thankful for your question

I hope it is OK to post a link here - as it seems many have issues with toileting and potty training their child who is on the autism spectrum. I too struggled with this and my son - but we made it past the potty training hurdle before 4 years old! We did have some regression issues after we moved and were in a new school, but he got back on track.

Potty Training Your Child on the Autism Spectrum

Hope that it is of assistance to you!

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