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If your child has an additional need such as delayed speech or is non verbal it doesn’t mean they can’t be potty trained, it just may take a little longer. The process can be helped along for your child by putting into place some simple strategies:

Use an assessment chart

Completing a bladder/bowel assessment chart is a really useful way of finding out whether your child is physically ready to start potty training. If your child isn’t able to communicate their thoughts and feelings, you won’t be able to rely on these signals to tell you when they’re ready to potty train. By finding out how often they do a wee or poo you can then create a potty or toilet routine based on this information.

Take them at set times

alarm clockContinue to take your child at set times based on your observations. If they wet themselves at another time, take them to the toilet as quickly as possible and try to get them there so some of the wee goes into the toilet. Ignore the wetting and positively reinforce that the wee has gone into the toilet and continue the rest of the toileting routine.

Use verbal and visual clues

Introduce simple books on the subject consistently using the signs, sounds or words that your child can use. Reinforce verbal clues with a visual clue – use photos, drawings, pictures, images and social stories when preparing them to use the potty. Using these images to create visual schedules will make it easy for your child to follow the new routine and make it more predictable.

Using sign language for common toileting words and phrases can also reinforce learning.

Put up a poster

A poster displayed in the bathroom that lists the steps for using the toilet can help children remember what to do. Use this visual sequence to help your child understand what is expected of them, for example: trousers down, pants down, sit on the toilet, wee/poo in the toilet, wipe, pants up, trousers up, flush toilet, wash hands. The sequence can either be in the form of photographs, pictures or the written word - whatever is most suitable and motivating for your child.

Consider the toilet surroundings

child on pottyIt’s important that your child feels relaxed, comfortable and secure about using a toilet or potty. If you start with the toilet you should use a footstool and a children’s toilet seat to help your child feel confident and safe. A footstool will allow your child to get into the best position for doing wees and poos, with their feet supported and knees above hips.

Further information and resources

For more information and tips for supporting your child take a look at ERIC’s Guide to Potty Training and ERIC's Guide for Children with Additional Needs.