Topics in ABA: Toilet Training

Friday January 11, 2019 at 1:54 PM


Topics in ABA: Toilet Training

Often, children with special needs can require extra support and personalized teaching to acquire basic daily living skills. One of these essential skills that we frequently address in ABA therapy is toilet training. It’s not uncommon for our clients’ parents to express that they have spent a lot of time working on toilet training with their child but have not seen a great amount of success. If your child is receiving ABA therapy, your child’s BCBA can help you design a toilet training program that will work for your child and lead to positive outcomes.

Here is an overview of some common elements of an effective toilet training program:

  • Create a schedule: Initially, most toilet training programs will use an intensive schedule with frequent trips to the bathroom at regular, planned intervals. An intensive schedule is important because you want to create as many opportunities as possible for success. At the same time, though, you want a schedule that works for your family, that you as the parent would realistically be able to implement at home. Finding the right balance between these two factors will be a key to a successful plan.

  • Consequences: Positive reinforcement is always a crucial component of teaching a new skill. The goal should be to make using the toilet exciting and rewarding for your child. Think about some of your child’s favorite things (toys, games, special snacks, etc.) that could be used effectively as a reward for successful bathroom trips. And it may be helpful to reserve those items just for this purpose, to make them even more effective.

  • Increased Fluids: This is a common component in the initial stages of a toilet training program. Again, the goal is to create as many opportunities for success as you can. So, when you first begin a program, it can be helpful to provide your child with more than the usual amount of water, juice, or whatever they like to drink.

  • Communication Training: Possibly just as important as actually using the toilet is the ability for your child to request to go to a bathroom. If this is a skill your child is lacking, it can be incorporated into a toilet training program, for instance, by prompting your child to request to use the bathroom before a scheduled bathroom trip. This could be either a vocal request, a picture exchange, or some other type of functional communication, depending on your child’s ability.

As always, please feel free to reach out to your child’s BCBA, who will be happy to provide you with more information and work with you to create an individualized toilet training program that is suited to your child’s needs. Keep an eye on our blog for more helpful tips on a variety of topics related to ABA and autism.

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