The average age to potty train a child with special needs is much higher (averaging around age four or five), so don’t feel defeated or discouraged if your neighbor’s two year old is potty trained while you are working on training your four year old.
Your child is unique, just like we are all unique, and we need to do what works for each child.
I am a play therapist, and I work with children with developmental delays on a daily basis. With more than 100 children that I have worked with on this are very young. I have also seen success in most cases, so while it will not be easy… with patience, it can be accomplished.
While no parents want to push a child to do what he or she cannot do, if you can help them to be able to use the toilet, the difference in the level of self – esteem in your child will be amazing. It is such an accomplishment for your child, and they will feel proud, as they should!
- Have a quick chat with your pediatrician, any therapists, and any specialists that you and your child see.
- Ask for advice that is very specific to your child. This is important, and I would not skip this step.
- Have a physical done before going forward, to be sure that there is nothing that will make it harder for your child (such as a urinary tract infection).
- Watch for signs. You need to see the same signs of readiness. (Are they staying dry for at least an hour at a time? Are they showing signs before having a bowel movement? Does he or she seem interested in the bathroom or in you when you go to the bathroom?)
- Is your child open to the idea of potty training? If your child seems to be hesitant or resistant, you will want to wait. This is especially true in this unique situation. Don’t worry about it – just pick back up in about two months or as soon as you see their interest pique.
If you think that he is ready to go, just prepare him for what is going to happen. They will start using the bathroom, they will flush the loud toilet, they will wash their hands with warm water, they will wear underwear with their favorite things on it, etc.
- It is okay that your child might be older. This is his/her time.
- The process may take longer – a weekend probably won’t cut it. That is OK.
- You will have to do more (help with clothing, help with the toilet, help with washing hands).
- Accidents WILL happen! Be prepared, both emotionally with expectations and physically with some cleaning products!
- Your entire family should be prepared. You may need a break or some help or even just someone to listen. Tell them what you are doing. Their support will be very important.
- You can do this, as a team. Look at all that you have done together so far.
- Every child is different and advice that will work on one child may not work on another. That is just fine, because you will learn what works with your child.
This is an excerpt from the Special Needs chapter of the book, Potty Train in a Weekend. Check it out for more information on potty training your special needs child.