Toilet Training Your Aspergers Child: Part I

"Any tips for toilet training my Aspergers son? It's not been going very well so far. Help!"

Even for the normal child, toilet training is often a difficult skill to master. But for the child with Aspergers or High-Functioning Autism, there are additional factors that may inhibit toilet training. The things that would encourage the average child may not be effective with the "Aspie."

Social motivation is a critical factor in determining "readiness" for toilet training. An Aspergers child may not be motivated by the opportunity to wear “big boy pants.” He may not understand what is expected of him. Following all the steps necessary for toilet training may be difficult for this child. Changes in his routine may also be a challenge.

An Aspergers child may not be aware of the need to use the toilet. The first step in toilet training will be to determine his level of readiness.


1. Establish a positive and meaningful routine around toileting, and collect data about your child's readiness for schedule training or for independent toileting.

2. Use a simple chart to collect the data needed about your child's readiness. On a routine basis, the child is taken to the bathroom for a "quick check" every 30 minutes, and data is recorded on each occasion.

3. Over a period of 1 or 2 weeks, patterns of data begin to emerge:
  • Is the child dry for significant periods of time?
  • Is there some regularity in his wetting/soiling?
  • Does the child show any indication that he/she is aware of being wet/soiled?
  • Does the child pause while wetting/soiling?

4. If the answer to all of these questions is no, then it may not be time to toilet train the child.

5. During this trial period, assess other aspects of the process of toilet training:
  • Is the child beginning to pick up on the routine involved?
  • Does the child have dressing skills?
  • Are there any fears associated with the process of toileting?
  • What is the child’s attention span?

It may be beneficial to develop a task analysis of the steps of toileting. This can provide a picture of all the skills needed and will also let you see where specific trouble areas may be. The task analysis can be very general or very specific, including everything from entering the bathroom, to flushing the toilet and leaving the bathroom.

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  1. We gave our son a choice as to when "no more diapers day" would be. We asked him if he would rather it be the day after Halloween, the day after Thanksgiving, or the day after Christmas. He picked the day after Christmas. So we started talking about "no more diapers day" a lot. When that day came we got rid of the diapers. Then Valentine's Day became no more pull-ups during the night day. When he could go five days without having an accident we gave him a trophy that had a picture of a potty on it. And of course it said his name and also said Potty Champion 2009. He loved it and was very proud of it.

  2. My son had a terrible time with toilet training. He finally got it around 5.

  3. We bought dinosaur underwear. My son said "those dinosaurs are not going to like me when I poop on them."

    What actually worked was telling him I wasn't going to clean up after him anymore. He pooped in his pants, and I told him he had to clean himself up. (I planned on bathing him anyway). He, being 3, had difficulty.

    He didn't like having poop on himself, and if he was going to have to do it himself, he decided it was better to just use the potty. After months of training, telling him he had to keep,himself clean is what finally did it.

    Good luck.

  4. My son's 9 and I am still struggling with the potty with him. He will pee and once in awhile poop in the potty. But most of the time he won't poop in the potty

  5. It's a real struggle for us still. My son is 6 and for a while it seemed he had it down. But now he gets in this modes of extreme concentration with something and makes a mess in his pants.

    He always comes to get me after (he HATES being dirty), but he neber remembers to go to the potty in the first place. He's pretty good at it when he has to pee, but he hasn't gone poo in the actual potty in months. It's very trying. I always have a stack of underwear to wash (he refuses to wear a diaper and I'm hesitant to try and force him because I don't want to make it seem like a punishment).