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Finding the Questions


I’m gathering questions for the first leg of my journey to discover how families with Autism overcome specific issues.

The first topic of my journey is with Potty Training a child with Autism.

We’re starting on this leg of the journey as I know several families where this is a major cause of concern.

Children that don’t reach this milestone can be mocked or ridiculed, and parents stay up at night wondering if they will need to buy depends and will wipe their child’s behind for years or decades.

I talked to one family who has a child nearing 11 that isn’t potty trained yet – but they’ve made some progress.  At least their child knows they’ve gone potty in the diaper.


So my request is this….


If you had any questions to ask a family that has had challenges dealing with potty training – but have overcome them….


What would you ask?

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Joel Manzer
Husband to an Amazing Wife, and Father of a Child with Autism. Founding Lead Editor of this site called Autisable. Click here to join Autisable!
Joel Manzer

Joel Manzer

Husband to an Amazing Wife, and Father of a Child with Autism. Founding Lead Editor of this site called Autisable. Click here to join Autisable!

6 thoughts on “Finding the Questions

  • Terrie joslin

    My grandson wears underwear to school and manages to hold himself until he gets home late in the afternoon. I can take him to the toilet and he will stand and urinate, but the bowel movements are not happening. He is 6 years old and I need help on how to get him to feel safe and comfortable releasing himself. When he has the urge to go he will stop himself from going. So this routine of his turns into multiple little movements a day. Thanks for any advice!

    • Hey Terrie,

      Wish I could provide the best advice on this topic. For the past five years we’ve graduated from pull-ups to our son going to the potty in only one bathroom in our home.

      Focus on the positive and make any changes subtle but consistent. That’s what got us this far.

      There is hope.

  • Brilliant stuff, man! What you have to say is really important and Im glad you took the time to share it. What you said really spoke to me and I hope that I can learn more about this. Thanks for sharing your opinion. I am yet to find anything as enlightening as this on the web.

  • Consistency, consistency, consistency.  As little verbal direction as possible.  No eye contact for accidents. Rewards for success.  Since our bathrooms are either upstairs or downstairs, we put a potty on the main level since that’s where we spent most of our time during the day.  (If we went outside, the potty was put in the garage).  This way, the potty was always easily accessible increasing the possibility for success.  I’m one of those people (ABA trained) that refused to use food rewards for everything, so I reserved it for the tough one – potty training.  Sorry, but mini M & Ms were key for us!!!   If you find something that the kid likes and ONLY use it for potty success, it wll really mean something.  (It’s the same with the word “no.”  If you reserve it only for a dangerous situation, the desired impact will be made).  Real underwear and the accidents that come with it, I know, are SO difficult to deal with, but consistency across all situations AND all caregivers – school, home (all the time, even weekends), grandparents’ houses, stores, etc., is key.  May have to adjust your life for a while to stick close to home, but it’ll be SO worth it in the long run.  EVERYONE in the child’s life has to be approaching it the same way in order to ensure success!!  GOOD LUCK!

  • Hello – I have some “potty” suggestions that I hope may be helpful

    Perhaps writing a Social Story for the child to read each time while on the potty would help?  Actually, the parent will most likely be reading it – the child will be looking at the photos and listening to the friendly story words being read. A simple, brief and basic story – one with pictures to provide the child with visuals. Simple hand drawn pictures can work fine. If your child has interest in letters or written words, pointing to the words as your read them may hold their interest.

    I know parents certainly do not have all the time in the world, but taking a child to the potty consistantly once every half hour, and later on every hour (if there has been consistant success), is more likely to have some  success.  Doing this, you are bound to have a time during the day when the child will actually need to go in the potty – and it could be within that half hour of time. 

    Removing the pull-up during the day is a practical – and I think necessary – way to start. If the child goes in their pants they will not feel comfortable, and you can use this as an opportunity to read the Social Story again and ‘show the child’ the potty, Unfortunately, this means more laundry, but the cost of diapers or pullups will outweigh the cost of doing the extra laundry.

    Sometimes potty training can take a long time . In the long run, much consistancy is a parent’s best asset. My best wishes to parents for their child’s success – this is no small task.

    I hope some of these sugestions will be helpful.


  • I have two autistic daughters. The oldest was terrified of the toilet. She is obsessed by elephants so we got a huge elephant she could only hold when sitting on the potty. Success!!!! She still wouldn’t poo on the potty because she was afraid, until she has the runs on day, and when she pooed in the bathtub it freaked her out, so she started pooing in the potty. She still won’t flush after using the potty because it terrifies her.

    My second daughter on the other hand, has always been interested in the potty. At one point we thought we had her trained, but it didn’t last. She is still in diapers. At this point I wonder if she will ever be trained.

    I’m not sure what questions I would ask a parent of autism, except maybe how and what they did to help their child.


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