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Potty Training Special Needs Children

Potty Training Special Needs Children

Potty training can be a long and arduous process for parents and children that requires much thought and research. When potty training begins, parents take into account the physical and emotional readiness of their child before beginning the process of potty training.

 When considering whether a child with special needs is ready to begin potty training there are a obviously a host of other factors to consider. Considering the medical and developmental readiness of your special needs child before beginning potty training can save a great deal of frustration and angst for both parents and children.  If your child’s development is delayed in other areas, there is every reason to expect delays in this area. If your child does have a developmental delay, their bodies may be ready for potty training but they may not be able to make the connection between the feeling of a full bladder and the need to use the toilet.

Emotionally, there are many factors that come into play with potty training. Children with autistic tendencies find even small transitions and conflicts to be stressful and beginning potty training may lead to cycles of tantrums. Many children also find the process unnerving as the unconscious intensity of their parent’s desire to see this achievement fulfilled can upset them greatly. Children who crave control or have temperamental issues will find potty training an ideal battleground to confront parents, as only your child truly has control over their bodily functions.

 There may also be medical factors that will prevent your child from being able to control his bladder. Children with sensory integration issues or low muscle tone (hypotonia) may be unable to sense the need to go or when their diaper is wet. If this is the case then it is better to hold off until your child has developed further physically. If your child shows no signs of being distressed by wearing a diaper or being wet, than wait until they tell you when they are ready to begin potty training.

Once you are both ready to begin potty training, consider what special products or adaptations you may need for your child. Stools with hand rails or handles to help maneuver on and off the toilet and training seats with a full back may help those with physical mobility issues. For developmentally challenged children, special books, picture schedules and cue cards can all help your child grasp the concepts and steps of potty training. For those children with autistic tendencies, using a schedule and preparing your child by three minute and one minute increments can help them to understand what is coming next and will potentially avoid any major meltdowns. As well, autistic children are prone to hard stools so a diet of fruit and fiber will help avoid painful bowel movements.

The most important part of potty training a special needs child is awareness and readiness. Parents must monitor their child’s emotional involvement and frustration levels carefully before beginning the potty training process and make sure the level of comprehension and ability to follow instructions are at a level necessary to begin the process. As with any other aspect of parenting special needs children, patience and careful attention to details will help to yield results. 

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