According to Freudian psychology, potty training is an extremely important stage of child development. While not everything Freud wrote about is accepted as truth, this stage of development is widely understood as an important milestone in personal growth. The difficulty with potty training with an autistic child can be a singular challenge. If an autistic child is ever to gain a semblance of independence, it is necessary that potty training be carried out correctly.
There are techniques for potty training a normally developing child. These practices are fairly universal, but for the most part, they do not apply to the autistic child. Toilet training an autistic child requires some adjustment to basic strategies.
When potty training a normally developing child it is common for parents to use prizes and rewards to reinforce the behavior being taught. However, when it comes to autistic children, they do not usually react in the same way to positive reinforcement.
Sometimes they may acknowledge it and other times it can be totally ignored. Autism is a disorder in which social interactions are impaired. Some autistic children may even avoid close relationships with their own parents, preferring to be alone or detached. This must be taken into consideration when drawing up a plan for potty training.
Furthermore, autistic children may not have an understanding of why it is important to relieve themselves in the toilet. This breakdown in communication is extremely important to address.
Many autistic children do not speak. This creates another problem in terms of potty training. However, one of the most difficult challenges seems to be breaking autistic children out of rigidly adhered to routines. Many autistic children become attached to routines and find them difficult to break out of. An autistic child switching from diapers to underwear might sense this as a threatening change. The noise of the toilet flushing could also bother them.
If you’ve looked into methods of how autistic children learn then you are aware that most are extreme visual learners. Instead of using words to communicate the importance of toilet training to autistic toddlers, it is best to utilize visuals. The rate of success in toilet training using visual cues over verbal ones in toddlers with autism has been well documented. In fact, there is an entire industry of products related to helping teach autistic toddlers how to be properly potty trained.
In terms of the visuals that can be employed, the most common type is a series of pictures, similar to a comic book that relates the behavior that is going to be taught. These cards demonstrate the entire process of using the toilet and include information on what happens after the toilet process is finished. If you’re comfortable with the idea, let your child see you use the toilet. This visual cue will reinforce what you are telling them.
One of the other difficulties of potty training an autistic child is the fact that many of them do not sense the need to use the bathroom and are prone to having accidents. One of the ways this can be addressed in through the use of a timer. Timing out when the child should go to the bathroom can turn the urge to go into a routine.
As mentioned earlier, autistic children are often fiercely opposed to change. When beginning potty training do not expect to succeed all at once. The process should be taken slow and steady, completely at the pace of your child.
Although autism is a disorder that impairs the ability to communicate in a social manner it is possible for many autistic children to learn how to function independently. Potty training is one of the most important steps that will influence the life of an autistic child. If you want further information on potty training autistic children, there are plenty of resources and experts that can lead you in the right direction.
About The Author
Rachel Evans has an interest in Autism. For further information on Autism please visit http://www.essential-guide-to-autism.com/autism.html or http://www.essential-guide-to-autism.com/blog/2006/08/18/potty-training/.