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Toilet Training Part 1: Where Do I Start?
Dec 18th, 2015

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  1. Priming – Many times the toilet and bathroom process in general can be overwhelming to children who have difficulty adapting to change. Priming is a way of introducing a new task or activity to a child in a non-threatening, gradual process that allows for them to explore the change, which in turn typically allows for an easier transition. Some great ways to prime for toilet training are: playing with familiar toys in the bathroom for a few minutes a day and begin changing diapers in the bathroom to help desensitize the child to the environment, watch videos and read books relating to toileting that feature the child’s favorite characters or fun songs, and create a visual with toileting steps and expectations for the bathroom to introduce the process.
  2. Create a routine – Studies show that intensive toileting routines that involve scheduled and timed sittings, as well as increased liquid intake are effective in toilet training. Time charts and visuals are great tools for creating a toileting routine. During timed sittings, it may be helpful to provide your child an item to keep their hands busy and make the time go by more smoothly!
  3. Positive Reinforcement – Studies show that toilet training programs that focus on positive reinforcement are effective in reducing urination accidents and helping to maintain skills for up to and over 1 year. It is helpful to reserve one powerful reinforcer (iPad, highly preferred food item, etc.) to use ONLY for successful toilet trips to increase and maintain motivation. It is important to use positive reinforcement most especially when your child voids on the toilet for the very first time in order to set them (and you) up for success!
  4. Be consistent – The key to implementing an intensive toilet training program is to be consistent. An intensive program can require a great deal of time and effort, so understanding that and devoting the time is crucial. Make sure everyone involved with the process is on board with the plan.

Many times an intensive toileting program can begin to produce success in as little as a few days! Just remember – you can do this!


Ardic, A., & Cavkaytar, A. (2014). Effectiveness of the Modified Intensive Toilet Training Method on Teaching Toilet Skills to Children with Autism. Education and Training in Autism and Developmental Disabilities, 49(2), 263-276.

Bainbridge, N., & Myles, B. (1999). The Use of Priming to Introduce Toilet Training to a Child with Autism. Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, 14(2), 106-109.

Cicero, F., & Pfadt, A. (2002). Investigation of a Reinforcement-based Toilet Training Procedure for Children with Autism. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 23(5), 319-331.

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