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Potty Training Series — Is my child ready to potty train?

potty training

Here comes the first of several blog posts around the wonderful topic of potty training! Whether you're a parent or a teacher, have a young child or an older student perhaps with a disability, toilet training can be challenging and daunting! It can be scary as crap! Pun intended. 

My own autistic son took years to master the skills that seemed to come so easily to his age peers. After countless accidents and many years of cleaning poop out of underwear, it did happen! 

Parents and teachers, be vigilant! It can be a long game. Keep in mind that, with few exceptions, your child will NOT go to college in diapers. Stay the course, and hang in there! It does get easier!

Let's start this series with WHEN to start the potty training journey.

Signs your child is ready for potty training

I'll share a list of signs your child is ready for potty training below, but I just want to highlight the two most important signs: YOU are ready and MEDICAL hurdles have been ruled out. 

Make sure you are ready mentally for what might be a marathon. If it ends up being a quick sprint, yea! But, especially if you are hoping to toilet train a child with support needs, it might take a while with steps forward AND steps back. Make sure you give yourself time to devote to it and you give yourself (and the child!) grace for mis-steps.

potty training

And second, if you have a child with support needs or a diagnosed disability, especially if they have ANY gut issues, make sure you bring your doctor into the discussion. If there is a medical concern, that needs to be addressed first. Then, off to the races!

Some of my favorite quick shop ideas for potty training!

What is the best age to potty train?

Sorry, but there's no magic answer to this. Super dependent on your willingness to put in the time AND your child's developmental readiness.

With that said, research has consistently shown around 3-3 1/2 brings the most success, but your timeline may be different!

My autistic son started trip training close to 4, had BM accidents for years, and didn't night-train completely until about 8. My typically-developing daughter, trained in about 3 days at 2 1/2 years old. 🤷‍♀️

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Common signs the student ready to potty train

For typically-developing children, these tips are standard practice. They are still useful for those with disabilities! But, I also acknowledge that sometimes we have students who may not show these “signs” (due to communication skill deficit or sensory differences), so take them with a grain of salt. It is still possible to toilet train a person with a disability who is missing some of these signs. While the age of 2-3 may be typical for most children, toileting training a person with a disability may work best over the age of 4-5. And that’s OK! Take the time you need.

  • Research has said that the age of 35-39 months is likely the best, but it’s up to you!
  • Student has a method of communication and can communicate simple needs.
  • Student can follow simple directions.
  • Student has basic motor skills and can do some or all of their own dressing.
  • Student can identify body parts.
  • Student may act differently before, during, or after elimination in diaper or pull-up.
  • Shows an interest in the bathroom or in the toileting routine of others.
  • Student has a few dry hours during waking hours.
  • **most important** There are no medical issues identified that would hinder progress! Seek medical help if you suspect any medical problems.
potty training

Find these tips and more including a potty training program, sticker charts, visuals, and more in the resource below!

...or find other Adaptive IEP goals and materials here:

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