Personal Independence

Toilet Training your child with ASD – 3 things to consider before you start

Child on toilet, Adult looking at cihld


Toilet training is an important selfcare skill that impacts on the quality of life for the whole family. Having mastered toilet training also assists your child with accessing school and recreational activities.

Before starting the toilet training with your child there are however a few things to consider.

  1. Is your child ready?

Your child may show signs of being ready for toilet training.

These signs can include:

  • Your child showing interest in other people using the toilet.
  • Your child showing awareness of a wet or soiled nappy (i.e. hides when needs to do a poo, refuses to sit when the nappy is soiled, removes or tries to remove nappy when wet or soiled)
  • You may also notice that your child shows subtle signs that they are aware of something happening to their body (i.e. a shift in attention).
  • Your child can remain dry for longer periods.

If your child has problems with processing sensory information, he/she may not show any of these signs. Some of the research suggests that this is not a reason to delay the toilet training. If you choose to delay the toilet training, it may be harder for your child to cope with the change in routine and you may experience more behaviours from your child.  It is however important that your child has some control over the bowel and bladder before starting toilet training and the recommendation is that your child can stay dry for at least 1.5 hours. Your child also needs to have the ability to physically sit.

  1. Are you ready?

It is also very important that you are ready to take on the task of toilet training with your child. Be aware that it can take a long time for your child to be fully toilet trained and it is a time-consuming task. For typically developing children this skill can take several months to be fully accomplished and for a child with developmental delay and/or disability such as ASD it can be an even longer and sometimes more frustrating process. Consider whether you and the family are ready to start the process, as once you start it is important to be consistent and persistent. Plan to start toilet training when there are no other major or stressful events happening in your life such as moving house, change of employment, having a new baby or going away on holiday.


  1. Medical considerations

Does your child have any medical problems which can affect toilet training or cause problems in the future, such as diarrhoea, constipation, involuntary soiling or physical abnormalities? If your child is experiencing any of these, then it is important to get medical advice to prior to starting the toilet training.


For the steps in getting set up to start toilet training, look out for the next blog post on this subject.

In the meantime, you can find further information from these websites:

Written by: Mette Haulrik, Occupational Therapist

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