The potty training process can be a challenge for most parents. Teaching to properly communicate when feeling the need, to pull up and down the training undies, to sit, etc can be laborious. Now, for parents on the spectrum, the bar gets taken to a whole new level. Developmental issues, communicational challenges, and even sensory processing issues can make the task more complicated.
However, there is hope! and today we will analyze the reasons behind sensory processing issues as well as ways to ease them.
Why Does Sensory Processing Matters on Potty Training?
Sensory Processing refers to how the nervous system detects, regulates, interprets, and responds to sensory information. Sensory Processing is an important factor in considering a child’s attention, memory, behavior, and function
Toileting AKA potty training requires a lot of body awareness. The child is required to identify when his/her body feels the need to visit the toilet, as well as when their bowel or blatter is empty and ready to leave.
Sensory Processing and Toileting
Believe it or not, a bathroom can be an overstimulating place for a child on the spectrum. Loud flushing noises, smelly deodorants, cold sits, loud echos, etc.
Also, tactile sensitivities can interfere with learning. Washing hands, touching paper, wiping, sitting on a hard sit, etc. Problems with toileting and sensory processing might include (but not be limited to) the following:
Poor Interoception (realization of body needs)
- May be unaware that his bowel or bladder is full.
- Feels that they need to go, but not be able to discriminate whether they need to urinate OR have a bowel movement.
- Unable to “push” to go.
- Cannot feel that they have had an accident or that their clothes are soiled.
- Unable to bend and reach behind them to properly wipe.
- Dislikes the feeling of “peeing” or “pooping” and withholds.
- Fearful of falling into a regular-sized toilet
- Dislikes the feeling of wiping or being wiped.
- Prefers the parent to wipe them
- Does not like to wash their hands
- Takes off all their clothes to use a toilet
- Avoids flushing the toilet
- The child is fearful of the sensations involved when they pee or poop.
- Reports that the act of “peeing” or “pooing” hurts, crying, etc.
- Extreme reaction to the sound of the flush or the air dryer
- Gags, or chokes at the smell of the poop
- Visually distracted by details in the bathroom, including lines in the tile, dust on the floor, etc.
Easing Toileting Learning Technics
The following strategies will help you ease the challenges due to over-reactive responses, tactile defensiveness, and poor interoception.
- Get an adequate 4 in 1 learning potty seat. Place it in a bathroom that is easy access, and preferably keep the door open.
- Try a fun potty sit and underwear. Preferable with his/her favorite characters. This way your child might want to see it more often.
- Use flushable wipes, and if possible get a wipes warmer.
- Sing songs to make it more fun. “Let it go” is a great choice.
- Use colorful tape to mark the place where your boy is supposed to stand to pee.
- Use toilet targets for your boy to point at. If you don’t have anything close, you can use fruit loops or even goldfish to help him pee on the wholes.
- If your child has a hard time with interoception (not knowing when to poop and when to pee), teach them to potty seated.
- Create a nice environment. For a sensory seeker add bright lights and colorful things. For a sensory avoider add night lights and aromatherapy.
- Flush the toilet after he/she leaves the bathroom.
- If too sensitive, use earplugs.
When it comes to potty training or toileting, patience and repetition are key. Your child has a lot of information and sensory signals to make sense of and every child has to go at their own pace. Do not feel the “peer pressure” from other parents that your child “should be” ready.
Remember, all children learn and their own time and pace, and that is okay. Enjoy the ride!
Have you tried any of these hacks? Which one worked best for you? Share it with us!
At WSCC, we offer support for autistic families and their children with Stem Cell Therapy treatments that can transform autistic conditions by healing the gut, decreasing inflammation, and improving brain function. We also created an on Facebook that is destined to offer support and companionship for ASD parents and their families on their journey.
Remember, you are not alone!