Toilet Training: Habit Training

  • Situation

    I don’t think my students are ready to be toilet trained but I’d like to begin the process. Which students might be appropriate and when do you begin to try?

  • Summary

    One type of toilet training is habit training. Habit training is the process of teaching a child to eliminate on the toilet at routine times. Maria Wheeler author of Toilet Training for Individuals with Autism & Related Disorders – A Comprehensive Guide for Parents and Teachers suggests that habit training may be an option to consider if:

    • There is not awareness of the need to urinate or defecate.

    • The person is older than six years of age and other training techniques have not been effective.

    • The individual has an intellectual age lower than three years.

    • There is no awareness or change in behavior when diapers or clothing are wet or soiled.

  • Definition

    Habit training involves teaching children to eliminate on the toilet by developing a toileting routine/habit.

  • Quick Facts

    • Child's Age: 6-10, 11-13
    • Planning Effort: Moderate
    • Difficulty Level: Moderate
  • Pre-requisites

    Data collection indicating reliable time child may eliminate. Bathroom free of distractions.

  • Process

    1.  Identify times when the student usually urinates.


    2. Routinely take the student to the bathroom 15 minutes before the time indicated by data.


    3. Follow a visual routine such as: enter bathroom, push pants down, sit on toilet, pee in toilet, wipe, flush, pull pants up, wash hands, dry hands then check schedule. Use objects, symbols, photos or words to depict the toileting routine.


    4. Monitor the intake of fluids to assist in the success of a habit training program. Provide additional fluids about 10-15 minutes prior to starting the toileting sequence. Limit fluids during other times of the day.


    5. Habit training is successful when the student eliminates within 2-3 minutes of sitting on the toilet and remains dry until next scheduled time.

  • Documents and Related Resources

    article – Applying Structured Teaching Principles to Toilet Training


    Toilet Training for Individuals with Autism & Related Disorders (link to sample retail site for purchase)


    Toilet Training Schedules and Data Sheets


    Ironman Potty Story (Word document)


    Ironman Potty Story (PDF)


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