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Road Trip Do’s and Don’ts for Children with Autism

Going on a road trip requires a lot of preparation for everything to go smoothly. If you have a child with autism, going on a road trip will require a little extra preparation, but it should not deter you from taking a trip. A little bit of extra preparation will go a long way to ensure a stress-free enjoyable ride.

Road Trip Do’s and Don’ts for a Child with Autism:

Road Trip Do’s:

  • Prepare. Have an itinerary for the time in the car. Plan scheduled stops along the way for Road Trip Do's and Don'ts for a Child with Autismrestroom breaks, meals, etc.
  • Know your route. This will help with any unexpected stops that may occur. Know where the rest stops are located and where you are planning on stopping to eat meals.
  • Bring your child’s favorite snack and toys. Be well stocked with a variety of snacks, beverages, and activities. Also buy some new activities that can be used if they lose interest in the other activities.
  • Find a social story about car trips. Even better write your own using pictures of various landmarks that your child will see on their journey. Read this story each day in the weeks and days leading up to the trip.
  • Prior to the start of your trip, take small shorter trips (in increasing length if necessary) to get your child used to being in the car for long periods of time.
  • Reinforce and praise appropriate car riding behaviors (e.g., give a preferred snack or access to a preferred toy). Or after a successful outing, stop at your child’s favorite restaurant for a reward.
  • If your child has difficulty using public restrooms, practice going to different restrooms before your trip.
  • Leave for your trip very early in the morning, or even drive overnight if possible so there will be less traffic and your child will be more likely to sleep for the first portion of the trip.
  • Prepare for the worst. Think of everything that could possibly go wrong and then come up with solutions for those situations. Of course you can’t plan for every possible scenario, but having a general idea of what to do when things go wrong will be helpful.

Road Trip Don’ts:

  • Don’t “wing it”. Preparation is key in having a successful road trip. When you are unprepared for the trip there is a bigger chance of something going wrong.
  • Don’t assume that just because your child does well in the car for an hour that they will do well with long trips. Prepare for the worst and have a plan in place if your child begins to get restless during the trip.
  • Don’t wait for problem behaviors to arise. If your child is doing a great job of riding in the car, let them know by either providing specific praise (i.e., “I love how you are sitting and playing so nicely.”), or give them a few bites of their favorite snack in addition to the praise.
  • Don’t show your frustration. Even in a very stressful situation, it is best to remain clam. If you child sees that you are upset, it is just going to make them more upset.

Whatever may happen, good or bad it is important to focus on the special moments that were shared with your family and all of the good memories that are created during the trip that you can reflect back on for years to come.

Click here for more travel tips for children with autism.

What to Expect When You Suspect Autism Download our free, 17-Page eBook


NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

the history of autism

The History of Autism

Over the last 10 years the word autism has become a very well-known term. With the rates of autism steadily on the rise, most people are now at least somewhat familiar with it. But many people probably don’t know when autism officially become a recognized disorder, and how it evolved into what we know today? Below is a time-line of the history of autism.

  • Early 1900’s – The term “autism” was first used by Swiss psychiatric Eugen Bleuler to describe athe history of autism certain a sub-set of patients with schizophrenia who were severely withdrawn.
  • 1940’s – Researchers in the United States began using the term autism to describe children with emotional and/or social issues.
    • Leo Kanner – A psychiatrist from Johns Hopkin’s University studied 11 children with normal to above average IQ’s who had challenges with social skills, adapting to changes in routine, sound sensitivities, echolalia, and had difficulties engaging in spontaneous activity.
    • Hans Asperger – Also studied a group of children who were similar to the children Kanner studied except the children did not present with any language problems.
  • 1950’s – Bruno Bettelheim, a child psychologist coined the term “refrigerator mothers.” These mothers were described as mothers who were cold and unloving to their children. He claimed children of cold and unloving mothers were more likely to develop autism. This has since been disproven as a cause of autism due the total lack of evidence supporting such a claim.
  • 1960’s1970’s – Researchers began to separate autism from schizophrenia and began focusing their attention more on understanding autism in children. Autism also started to be considered a biological disorder of brain development. During this time, treatments for autism included various medications, electric shock, and behavioral modifications, most of which focused on punishment procedures to reduce unwanted behaviors.
  • 1980’s 1990’s – Early in the 80’s the DSM-III distinguishes autism as a disorder separating it from schizophrenia. During this time, behavioral modification became more popular as a treatment for autism. The way behavior modification was delivered began to rely more on reinforcement instead of punishment to increase desired behaviors. In 1994 the DSM-IV expands the definition of autism to include Asperger Syndrome.
  • 2000’s – present day – Rates of autism begin to rise and various campaigns have been launched to increase the awareness of autism. The prevalence of autism has increased from 1 in 150 in the year 2000, to 1 in 68 in 2014. Children are now able to be reliably diagnosed as young as 2 years of age. Due to years of research, the effectiveness of different intervention used to treat autism is better understood. Applied behavior analysis (ABA) is currently considered to be the “gold standard” treatment for individuals with autism.


What to Expect When You Suspect Autism Download our free, 17-Page eBook

Autism Services Near You

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

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recreational therapies for ASD

Recreational Therapies: A Guide to Keeping Your Kids with ASD Active

Today’s guest blog by Vanessa Vogel-Farley of ACEing Autism explains the importance of recreational therapies for children with ASD.

Keeping children physically active and involved in activities outside of traditional therapies as theyrecreational therapies for ASD develop has proven to be very beneficial in Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).  We know that all developmental domains are intrinsically connected and impact each other, motor development is key for social communication skills, so enhancing motor skills can help in all areas of development, especially early in life. The availability of programs that specialize in the flexibility needed for children on the spectrum has increased tremendously over the past couple years.  Horseback riding, tennis, and soccer are all options. Picking the program that is right for you and your children can be tricky and expensive.

In addition, increased BMI in children with developmental disorders has become a huge issue that further complicates the life of the child as well as their families.  Physical activity is a solution to this growing problem, but keeping kids with ASD active is easier said than done.  As a person who has been running an Autism specific tennis program for 8 years, even getting some children on the court is nothing short of a miracle.  Below are some tips I have found to be beneficial over the years.

Tips to Keep Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) Active:

  1. Continuity from program to home- Choose a sport or activity that you can enjoy as a family outside of the organized activity. Parental enthusiasm and joy in the activity has profound effects on how a child reacts to a new activity.
  1. Equipment- For some kids, the thrill of getting new equipment can be a useful tool in getting and keeping them engaged. There are programs that provide equipment while participating; asking if you are able to use that equipment between sessions can help to develop your child’s interest in that activity, while saving you the money of having to buy your own set.
  1. Down-time- There is a lot of waiting in most childhood activities and the patience that turn taking requires is even tougher in children with ASD. Attention to task and stimming behaviors become inhibitory. We have found that physical activity or routine during the time that waiting is required is helpful to keep kids engaged an attentive to the next task.  Use sit-ups, push ups, running in place, jumping jacks, toe raises, neck rolls, or anything that your child enjoys and helps to keep their heart rate up goes.
  1. Competition- Friendly competitions in safe environments can be easy ways to get kids active. Saying things like, “Beat you to the park,” “Race you to your room,” or “How many push-ups can we do in 30 seconds?” can increase physical activity on a daily basis as well as engaging you as a parent in a bit of a different light.  The aim is to have both of your giggling by the end.  Any child’s push up form is hilarious, not that mine, as an adult, is any better.
  1. Communication- If you choose an organized physical activity program, communication with the organizers and any one-on-one coach is essential.  Goals for each child can differ so much and your satisfaction with the program and the progress within that program is so important. If you do not feel like the program, which you are paying for, is working, communicating with the organizers can turn a bad experience into a successful one.

Finding a recreational program that works for you and your child may not be financially possible or if adding another thing to your family schedule makes you want to scream, increasing physical activity at home can be easy and fun.  Adding a walk after dinner or kicking a ball around for 15 minutes during the day can help to get everyone in the family more active.

Check out ACEing Autism to get your family and child with Autism moving with tennis lessons. Click here for one free class for North Shore Pediatric Therapy Affiliates!

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

ABA therapy

The Importance of Parent Involvement in ABA Therapy

Applied behavior analysis therapy (ABA) is a well-known, scientifically proven intervention for increasing functional skills in children with autism or developmental delays. While children can make great gains with ABA therapy, the children who make the most gains are the ones who have parents who are actively involved in their child’s therapy. Being actively involved doesn’t mean you need to observe every session and/or attempt to run your own sessions at home. However, what you can do is to carry over the skills your child is learning in therapy and then practice them during your child’s everyday routine. For example, if the therapist tells you they are working on increasing your child’s receptive identification skills, at home you can look through picture books with your child and have them point to various pictures in the book.

The Importance of Parental Involvement in ABA Therapy:

Children are with their therapist for only a small portion of each day, so the more they can practice thethe importance of parental involvement in ABA therapy skills they are learning, the sooner you will begin to see progress.  Conversely, if you do not carry over what your child is doing in therapy, it will most likely take them longer to meet their goals. It can also be counter-productive if you are doing something completely different than what is happening in therapy. For example, if a child is working on a certain method of communication in therapy, but the parents/caregivers do not make the child communicate this way at home, the child is going to get very confused and consequently will not learn to effectively communicate in a functional manner.

For suggestions on what type of activities you can be working on at home with your child, ask the behavior analyst on your child’s team. They can give you suggestions based on your child’s specific needs and goals.

Below is a list of some general activities that you can do with your child at home:

  • Have your child request preferred items and activities using their current mode of communication (vocal, signs, PECS, etc.). Keep their favorite items in sight but out of reach so they need to ask someone to get it for them. Or have preferred items in clear plastic bins that are not easy to open. So in addition to requesting the item, they can request “help” or “open.”
  • When your child requests something, have them make eye contact with you before you give them the item.
  • Look through picture books and ask your child to point to various pictures.
  • Ask your child to follow simple commands (e.g., clap, jump, find your nose, touch your toes).
  • Sing songs that have motions with them (i.e., Wheels on the Bus song). While singing do the different motions and prompt your child to imitate your motions.
  • Play a variety of developmentally appropriate games with your child to expand the variety of toys they find reinforcing.

Make the activities fun for your child. They are already probably receiving therapy multiple days a week, so you don’t want this to seem like work. If it seems like work, they will be more resistant to engage with you. Also follow your child’s lead and try to create “teachable moments” based off what they are currently interested in.

NSPT offers ABA Therapy services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

The Importance of Choosing Evidence-Based Treatments for Children with Autism

Your child just received an autism diagnosis and you want to get them started in some type of therapy, but how do you chose from the vast number treatments that claim to help children with autism?  In addition to the seemingly endless list of treatments you can find on the internet, there is also many fad intervention that occasionally pop up, which claim to “cure” autism.  These fads do not have evidence supporting their claims, and can be potentially dangerous. So how exactly do you sort out the good treatments from the bad? The answer is to remember these three words: Evidence-Based Practice.

Evidence-Based Treatments for Autismevidence based treatments for autism

What is evidence-based practice? Evidenced-based practice means that the intervention is based on scientifically valid and reliable research. The best example of an evidence-based intervention for individuals with autism is applied behavior analysis (ABA). ABA has over 40 years of research supporting the use behavior analytic interventions to improve the lives of individuals with autism.

 Non-Research-Based Treatments for Autism

There are currently many popular treatments for autism which have little to no scientific evidence supporting their effectiveness, but are still widely used. These treatments include the following:

  • Special diets (Gluten-free and casein-free)
  • Biomedical interventions
  • Vitamin supplements
  • Therapeutic horseback riding
  • Music therapy
  • Facilitated communication

Dangers of Using Non-Evidence-Based Interventions for the Treatment of Autism

  • Wasting valuable time – I have heard many families say they are just going to “try” out a specific intervention to see if it works. While this may seem harmless, it can in fact waste very valuable time for the child. Any time spent on an ineffective treatment is taking away time where the child could be developing functional skills.
  • Wasting money: Most autism treatments are expensive, even those which are evidenced-based. Insurance companies are now beginning to cover more evidenced-based interventions such as applied behavior analysis. They do not however, cover those interventions which are not scientifically valid. Families have been known to shell out thousands of dollars for treatments which will have no lasting effect on their child.
  • Causing harm to the individual with autism: There many are current treatments that claim to “cure” autism by doing a number of potentially dangerous acts. A few of these interventions include: Chelation therapy, Bleach enemas, Chemical castration, and Miracle mineral solution (MMS). These treatments can all cause serious, life-long health issues, or worse yet death.

If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed or are having trouble sorting out non-evidenced-based treatments, contact an autism professional to help you with this important decision. Always be weary of treatments which claim to “cure” autism, and remember if a treatment seems too good to be true, it probably is.

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NSPT offers ABA Therapy services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

More information about autism treatment can be found at:

http://www.asatonline.org/for-parents/learn-more-about-specific-treatments/

References:

what to say to a parent of a child with autism

10 Things A Parent Of A Child With Autism Wants To Hear

Any parent of a child with autism can tell you that they hear a seemingly endless amount of advice, opinions, and suggestions from friends, family, and even strangers who think they know what is best. Instead of trying to offer advice or what you think is best for their child, you should instead offer encouragement and support. Below are 10 different things parents of children with autism want to hear.

10 things a parent of a child with autism wants to hear:

    • Your son/daughter is adorable – So often people only focus on the diagnosis and what characteristics go
      along with it. Instead, the focus should be on the child as a person, and not just the diagnosis.
    • How are you doing? Parents of children with autism are very focused on their child and the progress they are, or are not making. Instead of always asking about the child, instead ask the parents how they are doing.
    • I’ve noticed your son/daughter has really improved with ___________: Let parents know any progress you notice. As an outside observer, if you notice a child is making progress, let the parents know the improvements you have seen in their child.
    • I’m here to listen: It is so important for families to have support systems. So many times parents are getting told what they should be doing or about the latest “cure” somebody read about. What is important is to actually listen without being judgmental, because unless you have a child on the spectrum, you should not be judging their current circumstances.
    • You are doing a great job! Parenting a child on the spectrum is very different than parenting a typically developing child. Telling a parent who has a child with autism they are doing a good job is always a welcome compliment.

What to Expect When You Suspect Autism Download our free, 17-Page eBook

  • Let me know if you need a babysitter: Finding a qualified babysitter to babysit a child with autism can be quite a challenge. Offering to babysit allows parents to go out and enjoy themselves without the worry about whether or not their child is safe.
  • When can we schedule a playdate? Children with autism generally have social challenges, so finding a playdate can be nearly impossible. If you know someone who has a child on the spectrum, setting up a playdate with your child would be beneficial for both children.
  • Can I help with anything? Help could come in the form of grocery shopping, picking up other children from school or an activity, cooking, helping with chores, etc.
  • What else is going on in your life right now? Parents who have a child or children with autism are often completely engrossed in their child, so at times it is nice to get their minds off all of the stressors and talk about other topics.
  • I know we haven’t seen each other in a while, but that is okay: It can be encouraging for parents to know that when their lives get busy they do not need to worry about whether or not their friends will still remain in their lives.

NSPT offers ABA services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

The Importance of Person First Language

The language we use and the labels that we place on individuals are powerful. In today’s society we rely heavily on medical diagnoses to define a person’s values, their strengths and weakness, their education, the services that people are eligible to receive and ultimately their future. Too often an individual’s diagnosis is used to define them as an individual – the retard, the autistic boy, the stutterer. Person First Language is a way to put the person before the disability, “describing what a person has, not who a person is (Snow, 2009).

The Importance of Person First Language:

In reflecting on the importance of person-first language, think for a minute how you would feel to be defined by yourPerson First Language perceived “negative” characteristics. For instance, being referred to as the heavy boy, the acne student, or the bald lady. To be known only by what society perceives as negative characteristics or “problems” would completely disregard all of the positive characteristics that make you as an individual who you are (Snow, 2009). Individuals with disabilities are more than their diagnosis. They are people first. The boy next door who has autism is more than an autistic boy, he is a brother, a son and a friend who happens to have autism. The girl who stutters in class is more than a stutterer – she is a daughter, a sister, and a best friend who has a fluency disorder.

Contrary to society’s definition, having a disability is not a problem. When defining a person by their disability, there is a negative implication that that person is broken. Especially within the health care field, it is imperative that we as professionals, co-workers and human beings begin to focus on other’s strengths. By focusing on the strengths of individuals who have disabilities, we are setting up our clients and friends for success. Using person-first language is a great first step to this change of thinking.

Use the table below to help guide your language in following person-first language recommendations:

Rather than… Please Say…
Autistic Child who has autism spectrum disorder
Stutterer Boy/Girl who has a fluency disorder
Retard A child with a cognitive defect
Slow child A child who has a learning disability
Non-verbal child She communicates with her device
Down’s kid Child who has Down’s Syndrome

This table is by no means a definite list. However, it can help build a framework for the importance of person-first language and how to implement it into your own language. When you are unsure of how person-first language applies to a situation, remember the emphasis is on the person as a whole – putting the person before his or her disability.

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

Snow, Kathie (2009). People First Language. Disability is Natural. Retrieved from www.disabilityisnatural.com

 

Traveling with Kids with Autism

Travel Tips for Children with Autism

The holiday season is quickly approaching, and for many people the holidays involve some type of travel. When traveling with a child with autism it is very important to plan ahead and be well prepared for the trip. One of the best ways to begin preparing is to identify the triggers for your child which lead to meltdowns, and come up with strategies on how to handle or avoid these meltdowns. It is also important to think ahead and consider the various scenarios which could occur, and make sure you are prepared to handle those situations. Of course, traveling can be very unpredictable, but if you are well prepared for a variety of different situations, your trip should be a relatively smooth one.Traveling with Kids with Autism

Travel Tips for Children with Autism

  • Create of visual schedule of activities for the travel day(s). Review the schedule in the weeks leading up to the travel day and then on the day of travel – Many children with autism do well with structure and knowing what to expect. When making the schedule, avoid making it too detailed (i.e., with specific times of each activity) since travel plans can sometimes change unexpectedly at the last minute. So, keep the schedule simple (i.e., drive to airport, fly on plane, drive to Grandma’s house).
  • Create a vacation calendar – This calendar can begin as far as a month before your trip. You can cross off the days leading up to your trip. The calendar can also include the days you will be away and the day you will return home.
  • Practice sitting for long periods of time – Regardless of the mode of transportation that will be used, there is a good chance you will be sitting for an extended period of time. Take practice runs in the car and reinforce good sitting behaviors. It can also be helpful to use portable DVD players and/or IPads to help during longer trips.
  • When traveling by plane:
    • Watch videos of airplanes taking off and landing and if time allows, take a trip to the airport to watch airplanes in person.
    • Use headphones to drown out any loud noises at the airport or on the airplane.
    • If possible, book a direct flight to avoid the process of switching planes.
    • Contact the airport and airline to see if they have any special accommodations for children with special needs.
      • Some airports and airlines have programs in place that allow practice runs through the airport, and even allow you to go onto the airplane itself familiarize your child with the airport and an airplane.
    • Bring chewy candy or gum to help with the change in cabin pressure which cause your ears to pop.
    • Airports are very busy and crowded, especially during the holidays. If your child has trouble in loud and/or crowded places, begin taking them to crowded places (i.e., a mall) to help de-sensitize them to crowds and loud environments.
  • Pack a bag with all essential items – This bag should include a variety of snacks, favorite books, toys, games, sensory items (i.e., chewy tubes, weighted blankets, etc.), headphones, IPad, and any other favorite or reinforcing items from home.







neuropsychological testing at north shore pediatric therapy

Diagnosing Your Child on the Autism Spectrum: Fact or Fiction?

Many times parents fear an autism diagnosis because they do not want a stigma for their child. However, it is important to understand that an appropriate diagnosis is the first piece of the puzzle. For those brave souls who don’t stop until they have the correct answer, the payoff is worth the effort and pain. A good diagnosis and evaluation should serve as a means of identifying appropriate and practical recommendations as well as a basis for progress monitoring from the intervention. At North Shore Pediatric Therapy’s Neuropsychological Center in Illinois, we utilize clinical testing to help identify the most appropriate diagnosis.

The Autism Testing Process at NSPT-Diagnosing Your Child:

Neuropsychological testing is an empirically supported way of assessing a child’s cognitive, academic, and social-neuropsychological testing at north shore pediatric therapyemotional functioning. The evaluation occurs over three days with an intake session, the actual testing day, and the feedback session.

  • Intake: The intake session is when the parents and child attend a formal meeting to discuss concerns. It is important that child attends the session as the neuropsychologist would want to attain some basic information regarding the child’s verbal functioning, social skills, and attentional regulation. Parents understandably do not want to speak in front of their child about concerns they have. We understand that and will ensure our best that the child is in a separate room when parents are talking about specific concerns.
  • Testing: The testing session consists of ascertaining information from a variety of resources including parents, teachers, outside practitioners (any therapist working with the child or family), behavioral observations, as well as the child’s performance on a variety of assessment measures. Testing is intensive and lasts upwards of four to five hours. The focus is to provide quantified information regarding the child’s functioning across a variety of domains and also to look for consistent patterns across performance.
  • Feedback: The feedback session is the most important aspect of the evaluation. This is the meeting in which the parents are provided information regarding the diagnosis that is given as well as what the next steps are to ensure that the child is able to progress to his or her potential. Read here for more on what to expect after neuropsychological testing.
  • Follow-up: The next step is for the neurologist to re-evaluate the child in six month’s to one years time (depending on the intervention that was prescribed) in order to monitor progress the interventions and to help progress monitor if additional supports or services are needed.

Be a Smart Detective When Seeking an Autism Diagnosis for Your Child:

For those parents with the courage to dive into discovering the diagnosis behind your child’s challenges, I say kudos to you! Those parents are the real child-advocates. Kick start your child’s success with a deep dive into your child’s diagnosis by seeking a neuropsychologist. I, Dr. Greg Stasi along with my colleague Dr. Amy Wolok provide in depth Autism Spectrum testing at our Neuropsychology Center in Chicago, IL. Our Center works alongside the many other therapists at North Shore Pediatric Therapy’s Glenview, Highland Park, Bucktown, Evanston and Lincolnwood Clinics to provide a comprehensive team all working together to help your child reach his or her potential. The neuropsychological evaluation is designed to help identify what specific strengths and weaknesses a child is exhibiting which leads to the best diagnosis and most importantly the most efficacious intervention.

Step-by-Step: Potty Training a Child with Autism

Potty training can be an overwhelming process for parents of young children. Potty training a child with autism can make the process seem even more daunting. But not to worry, with consistency and patience, children with autism can be successfully potty trained.

When to begin potty training – There is no magic age to start potty training, as it varies from child to child. Children with autism are not always developing at the same pace as their same-aged peers. However, no matter what your child’s current functioning level is, you should be able to start the potty training process around age 3.

Step-by-Step: Potty Training a Child with AutismPottyTraining

  • It is best to begin during a time when you have at least 3-4 days in a row to devote to potty training (i.e., a holiday break or a long weekend).
  • Divide potty training into two phases:
    • Phase 1 – Urination
    • Phase 2 – Bowel movements
  • Start by working on phase 1, and once your child is consistently urinating on the toilet, you can then begin working on phase 2.
    • When potty training boys, have them sit instead of stand. This will make it easier when you introduce phase 2.
  • When begin the toilet training process, begin to slowly fade out the use of diapers or Pull-Ups. If your child learns that they will go back to wearing a diaper every time they don’t go in the toilet, they will most likely wait until the diaper is on to urinate.
  • Make highly desired items (i.e., IPad, computer games, favorite treat, etc.) contingent on urinating in the toilet. Do not give your child access to these items at any other time. Restricting these items will increase their reinforcing value, making urinating in the toilet more motivating.
  • Provide natural consequences for accidents. Never yell or scream when accidents occur. Instead, have your child help with the clean-up, change themselves (to the best of their ability), and put their dirty clothes in the laundry.
  • Expect some resistance from your child when you begin toilet training. Children with autism love routines, and you are going to disrupt their normal routine as soon as you start potty training. Negative behaviors like crying and screaming are very likely in the beginning. It is important to ignore these behaviors and continue with the process. Once they learn the new potty routine, the behaviors will decrease.
  • Be consistent. Once you start potty training, stick with it! Requiring your child to use the potty one day, and then putting them back in a diaper the next can be confusing and will most likely extend the potty training process.
  • Once your child is consistently urinating in the toilet, you can move onto phase 2 and follow the same steps. It is common for phase 2 to take longer, so do not get discouraged if your child is more resistant at first.

Following these general guidelines can help with the potty training process. It is important to remember that every child is different, and what works for one child may not work for another. If you have been trying to potty train your child without any success, it is recommended that you contact a professional to assist you. Someone with knowledge and experience with potty training can write an individualized plan tailored specifically for your child.

Click here to download a printable potty chart.