How to potty train a child with special needs

Explain the process of potty training to your child in simple language.

Never rush potty training. The task is not easy at all especially if your little one has special needs so take time to consider your child’s abilities first.

It’s hard to tell the exact time when a child will be ready for potty training. Children with normal development show some signs of readiness between the ages of two and slightly after their third birthday.

However, this may be a bit different when it comes to those with special needs. They move at their own pace. So, never force them to begin potty training when they’re not developmentally ready for it.

Instead, be patient and observe their readiness to do the following:

• Follow two-step instructions.

• Tell you when they need to go to the toilet.

• Imitate your actions.

• Are willing to cooperate.

• Are able to get into and out of the toilet without your help.

• Are able to know if their diapers are wet or soiled.

• Are able to take off their pants on their own.

• Are able sit on the potty without help.

Getting started

Keep a record of when your child soils the diaper. This may help you know when and how often your little one will need to go to the toilet.

  • Talk to your child about potty training and explain to them the process in simple language.
  • Get your child interested in the toilet by showing them around the toilet bowl and teaching them how to wash their hands. Some kids really love playing with water.
  • Ask your child to drink plenty of fluids on potty training day.
  • Set a potty timer to go off every hour after your child uses the potty. This will keep both you and your child aware of the potty.
  • Take off their diapers during potty training.
  • Get them on the real toilet seat as soon as possible.
  • Give your child physical support while on the big potty because they may find it hard to keep their balance.
  • Praise their effort and success.

Teaching them how to communicate the need to go

What if your child wants to communicate the need to go but cannot verbally tell you? Here are a couple of ideas to help you get around the communication problem:

  • Use sign language: You can teach your kid some simple hand signs. This way, even if they cannot tell you in words of their need to go or they cannot walk to the potty by themselves, you can still understand their urge.
  • Use tangible symbols: In case sign language doesn’t work, you should try using tangible symbols such as a piece of remnant tile or a particular soft toy. Teach them to touch this item whenever they feel the urge to go.

This article first appeared in The Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.