Posted in Potty Training, Special Needs Children

4 year old autistic son and the potty!

I have a 4 year old autistic son and we've tried potty training before and he just played in the toilet! So we had to shut it down and lock all bathrooms for a while! Now I'm trying to start again and he has zero interest in sitting on the potty or his training toilet. He just gets up and runs away. He is also non-verbal so it's even more difficult with him! Anyone with suggestions? Should I force him to sit or just keep letting him run away? I'm lost here and welcome any advice!!!

  • Katie
    Mar 13

    Hi! 7 year long ABA and early interventionist here. Toileting is one of the most challenging skills to teach when working with an individual with autism. There are a multitude of sensory components that go along with using the toilet, externally but additionally internally. There isn’t really a quick trick for this endeavor, but more sticking with the mantra of working with a person with autism or behavioral differences ... repetition and consistency! In getting this process started the main goal is just to have your son get comfortable with the toilet, sitting on it, understanding its function, and it’s purpose in his life. As he builds up more tolerance for being able to simply sit on the toilet for an “extended” period of time then you go after the goal of using the toilet properly. Having visual aids would possibly help as well. Create a social story for his about using the toilet and go over it with him before you sit him on it. Have simple instructions on the steps of using the toilet taped up in the bathroom and go over them with him either before he gets on the toilet or while he’s sitting on it. I know right now these both seem like far in the future aspects of him using the toilet, but if you begin establishing them now it will make his transitions easier. Honestly my first suggestion would be to have your ABA introduce this task to your son, and have them make it a new program in their plan. If you have decided against having an ABA then my suggestion would be to make a routine up yourself and keep trying toileting every 1 to 2 hours of the day. I hope this helps a bit. Toileting can be such a tedious task (something you are all too familiar with in sure), but hang in there!

  • Katie
    Mar 13

    And incentive program would also be helpful. A reward system for him following through with the steps

  • Christine
    Mar 15


  • A
    Mar 15

    Just something I saw somewhere (not tried). Sticking a chalkboard paper to the toilet seat and making the child sit the other way with some chalk/erasable markers.

  • Alyce
    Mar 15

    I have almost five year old twins one of which is autistic and the other delayed and they weren’t potty trained til last summer at just over 4. I put potties in the living room . This helped a lot. I sat them on the potty every 20 min or so but didn’t fight with them to stay there. I bought these stickers that stick to the bottom that are activated by peeing on them so they liked that. I also used candy as a reward at first but not for long. It took a lot longer to get the poop part down. I also didn’t use pull ups. I went into those training panties and started with using these inserts that cool when they start to pee. This helped them realize that they needed to go run sit on the potty. It too the whole summer and I was pretty sure it would never happen but they were trained by the time it was time to go back to school in the fall. You can do this!

  • Khmommiex3
    Mar 16

    Thank you all for the great suggestions! I’m going to try them all. Especially like the one about turning them around and letting them draw or color! Great ideas, going to start today! These are much appreciated!

  • Alena
    Mar 28

    My kid’s favorite thing is his iPad. So we just moved into the bathroom for a while and said he could have only when he was sitting on the toilet, and if he had the job done he could take iPad outside. It was a tremendous help.