• Autism Help UK

When is my child ready for toilet training?

Updated: Mar 22, 2021

Toilet training is a necessary part of child development. It introduces a bunch of new skills for your child to conquer and overcome with the added benefit of cleaning up after themselves.


  • Signs that your child is ready to start toilet training

  • How to encourage and develop toilet training with your child

  • Tips and help

Signs that your child is ready for toilet training?

There are many signs that tell you your child is ready to start toilet training. Any child will show these signs however autistic children might have shown these signs when they are older and training might take more time.

Some signs that your child is ready include:

  • Your child being able to follow simple instructions

  • When you notice your child is having regular and normal bowel movements

  • When your child can actually gesture towards themselves after they have urinated or dedicated in their clothes

First steps into understanding toilet training

Toilet training for autistic children is generally the same rules for teaching all children. The best way to approach toilet training is to follow these approaches:

  • Encouragement and rewards

  • Visual support

  • Repeated practice

  • Keeping a firm routine

When adopting these approaches keep in mind that it will take patience and constant repetition. The most practical way to teach your child is to combine all methods and find out what works best with your child.

Best way to encourage toilet training

Each child varies in an age when they start toilet training however when they are ready they will have a limited understanding of how toilet training works.

It is best to break up the process into smaller sections rather than in one big go. Children will have a better time understanding smaller processes and linking them together rather than throwing them at the whole task which the child will find complex and confusing.

Broken-down tasks can look like this: Take off trousers, sit down on the potty, wash your hands. Delivery of information is key so break it down to an understandable level.

Tips and help

Comfortable setting

Autistic children might not struggle to understand the steps however might find difficulty practicing this because they are afraid of the toilet. It is best to make sure that where they go to the toilet is a safe place and is kept comfortable. You can make sure of this by making the temperature the same as the child's room, making sure the toilet or potty is adjusted correctly for the child.

Positive Reinforcement

Children respond to positive reinforcement incredibly well. The best way to reinforce this is by using rewards. Children will have an external motivator that will push them to want to do better. Rewards can be chocolate, favourite snacks, or even new toys.

When using praise and rewards remember to use them sparingly. You don’t want to encourage bad habits. Praise can come in word form as well as gestures. For example, clapping while saying “well done”.

Seek help

If your child is still struggling after using these tips and following these steps then it is best to speak to a GP. They can find if there are any medical problems which are best to rule out as fast as possible at young ages.

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