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Toilet training at a distance

One of the problems for many professionals and other people who help families and their children with autism or intellectual disabilities is the requirement that they are available to many families at the same time.  This organisational requirement can prevent them from putting in the time to help individuals successfully complete treatment and training programs. 

Here are several procedures which may help you overcome this limitation in relation to toilet training.

Preparation of trainers:

  • Once you have decided which arrangement of procedures is appropriate, ensure that the instructions are available in writing with record sheets.
  • Observe the child with those who will be doing the hands-on training (parents/siblings/aides) doing a range of tasks so that you get a feel for the way they operate.
  • Then spend as many sessions as you can with the trainers doing simulated role play toilet training trials together, with each of you taking the role of trainer or learner in  turn and introducing the likely problems which could arise.
  • Also spend time establishing confidence and trust. Arrange regular times for contact.  With enough of this kind of preparation, many families/staff can successfully manage a toilet training program.

Ongoing contact and support

  • Most of us, when doing something for the first time, find great comfort and benefit from encouragement and discussion, especially when the supporter has relevant experience and/or expertise.
  • Therefore, you should be in contact every day to begin with to discuss the record sheet, any events which were unexpected, any mistakes in procedure and how to deal with them and of course to note the trainers' positive achievements.
  • This contact can be by phone or in person, but it must allow for actual to and fro conversation.
  • I often get the trainer to fax or email the day’s record sheet(s) before we talk.
  • Contact can be gradually reduced in frequency depending on your judgement of the support needs of the trainer.
  • It is better for you to make the contact rather than waiting for the trainer to contact you, even if you have agreed on a contact time.
  • Once a week is as long as I would go between contacts, even when the trainer is clearly highly competent and the child is co-operating fully.