It’s inevitable - all parents eventually have to deal with the job of weaning their child from diapers and instructing them to use the toilet independently. As this time approaches parents begin to collect resources and information from various sources to help guide and support them in this important yet often dreaded parenting task. Potty training any child is definitely a challenge and one never knows how it will pan out.
All children, similar to their adult counterparts, have their own little quirks and peculiarities about how they like things done or how certain objects feel to them. Does - “It’s too hot.”, “It’s too cold.” or “It’s too big.”, “It’s too small.” or “It’s too hard.”, “It’s too soft.” - sound familiar to you? If you think you are stuck in the middle of the story of Goldilocks and The Three Bears you may not be too far off the mark. Many children grumble about food and drink temperatures, the feeling of a surface or the texture of clothing. (How many adults are partial to those scratchy tags they have in the necks of clothing?) Parents often deal with such grievances on a daily basis as they care for their young children, especially parents of children with an autism spectrum disorder who are very prone to sensory sensitivities.
When the time finally arrives for attempting to potty train your neuro-typical or autistic child, many of these particular issues will stand out and need to be taken into consideration. Potty training an autistic child can be extremely daunting to parents depending on where their child lies on the autism spectrum. Regardless, of who your child is and what issues they may have, sensory or otherwise, success can be achieved with a certain approach.
Just as adults build houses, choose jobs, purchase clothes and buy cars based upon their preferences and idiosyncrasies, so do parents need to tailor their potty training efforts by creating user-friendly toileting environments for their children. This is referred to as a customized approach, one that involves two basic components: 1) detective work 2) planning and preparation, and for the more challenging child with autism, a key ingredient to enhance their opportunity for success is to build upon their fondness for routine.
The first step involved in customizing a potty training plan of attack calls for parents to gather clues and play detective. The mission here is for parents to gather detailed information regarding their child’s likes and dislikes, what irritates them and what soothes them, what is likely to work for them and what isn’t. Most parents will know these things intuitively and could rattle of a short list rather quickly but when asked to compile such an inventory mindfully, they are often amazed by the length this list suddenly expands to. When a parent’s full attention is drawn to discovering and analyzing all the nuances of their child’s world, the picture that gets developed is embellished with much more revealing information then they originally had.
The second step in this process involves planning and preparation which is a key ingredient for attacking any type of challenge. One does not attend a job interview, give a party or take a trip without taking the time to do their homework if they want to achieve their desired objective. Developing a strategy and acquiring the preferred yet essential elements necessary for ones comfort and wellbeing will influence the outcome accordingly. Potty training may not rise to the occasion of events such as these but it does warrant the same consideration and effort if a parent wants their child to conquer and maintain independence in this self-care activity.
Last but not least, taking advantage of your autistic child’s yearning for routine cannot be ignored. This is an important strength to build upon when potty training a child with autism. Constructing a detailed and structured routine around potty training efforts will certainly enhance any parent’s chances for success with this unavoidable undertaking. Any child who thrives on predictability and routine will blossom when the environment is structured in such a way, regardless of the new knowledge they need to acquire.
Parents, who keep these tactics in mind as they guide their own little ‘Goldilocks’ to master this essential self-care skill, will undergo a journey that produces minimum stress and presents a quicker route to a successful potty training experience that, as Goldilocks says, “Ahh, this feels just right”.

Author's Bio: 

Hammer is the owner of The Progressive Parent, LLC,, a parent coaching business that offers quality parent coaching services, workshops & tele-seminars to individuals, couples & groups by phone or in person. A licensed social worker, Hammer helps parents uncover abilities and change possibilities with her more than twenty years of experience working with families. As a parent educator and certified parent coach, she currently supports parents of young children recently diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder Hammer offers parents a free weekly tip-style newsletter, The Spectrum, as well as a free e-course, Parenting a Child with Autism – 3 Secrets to Thrive. For additional information on free potty training teleclass, visit or contact Hammer at 207-615-5457 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              207-615-5457      end_of_the_skype_highlighting or email for more information.