HERE are the best tips, visuals, and materials, to potty train a child with special needs in your special education classroom.
If you are looking for potty (toilet) training tips for a child with special needs, or you are a teacher in a special education classroom, you have come to the right place!
There are many resources for potty training/ toilet training all across the internet, but potty training a child with special needs can be more complex than meets the eye. I do want to tell you one thing, as a special education teacher who has potty trained countless students, it is possible! I’m putting all my tips in one place for you and have a resource to share at the end too!
How do you know if your student (or child) is ready for potty training? Here is a quick list of questions to ask yourself before beginning toilet training with a student:
- Does the student show interest in the bathroom?
- Can the student remain dry for up to 2 hours? (this shows bladder muscle strength)
- Is the student uncomfortable in a soiled diaper?
- Does the student have regular, well-formed bowel movements?
- Does the student give a physical or verbal sign when they are going to the bathroom?
- Does the student show a desire for independence?
If the student is showing any combination of these signs of readiness, it’s time to give potty training a try.
Why is toilet training important for students with special needs?
Students with special needs are often toilet trained a lot later than their peers. Using the bathroom independently is not only a huge skill but also gives students a sense of autonomy over their body. Becoming independent in this area is very rewarding for the students, their families, and teacher to see come to fruition!
Have Open Communication with Families
This is ALWAYS an important goal of mine, but having open communication with families in regards to potty training is HUGE. Is the family ready to partner with you in potty training? What are their goals? What barriers do they have at home? Do they need visuals (send them home!) Communicating how the child does with potty training at night and on weekends in very helpful in making the best toilet training plan for the child.
Introduce Toilet Training Through Books
Adapted books and read alouds are great ways to introduce potty training to students before beginning. I have adapted books available in my shop and tpt store and below is a list of books (with affiliate links) I recommend.
How to Prep the Space
If you are a lucky teacher with a dedicated bathroom in your classroom, this is a huge win! If not you can still make this work by adding visuals to a shared space. My Simple Toilet Training Toolkit includes all of the visuals you will need to prep the space.
First, add a task analysis for using the toilet and washing hands to the space.
Next, add a bathroom visual to your visuals keychain, if you don’t already have one. This gives puts the visual in your hand whenever you may need it.
Then, Introduce the bathroom request card to the student. (also send this home, and encourage parents to use it at home as well)
How to get Started!
After prepping the space, introducing toilet training through books and communicating with families, it’s time to get started with potty training in the classroom. I suggest following a timed schedule for visiting the bathroom until the student’s urination schedule becomes more predictable.
To start, visit the bathroom every 30 min or on the hour and reward the child with praise for sitting and training.
Once the student is staying dry for 30 min-1 hour for 5 days in a row, up the timed schedule to a 2 hour schedule. If the child continues to remain dry on a 2 hour schedule for 5 days, you can up the timed schedule to a 3 hour schedule. I would continue with the 3 hour schedule for quite some time.
Offer Praise and Rewards if Needed
If you have a student that is motivated by positive reinforcement, potty training is going to work great! Remember to praise the student every time they are dry, sit on the potty, or use the potty, as well as for independently requesting the bathroom and completing the potty and hand washing routines.
Some students may require more tangible support, and you can do this with a reward system, like a token board. I have many forms of a potty token board available in the Simple Toilet Training Toolkit.
Building Independence and Fading Supports
While the bathroom visuals are great to always have available as reminders, a great way to continue to build independence once the student is remaining dry on their schedule is to fade the teacher assistance.
Allow them to follow the task analysis and fade physical cues, then verbal cues, and slowly encourage the child to complete the task independently.
Helpful Supplies (affiliate links)
((This blog post contains affiliate links for your convenience. You don’t pay any more by clicking my link (and I actually find the best prices for you!) but I make a small commission off of sales. This helps me to test out more materials and bring you more quality content. Thanks for supporting my little blog!))
Potty training a child with special needs is something that can be done easily with the right materials! I’m here to help you keep it simple with my toilet training toolkit. The toolkit includes everything you need to effectively toilet train in the classroom.
Grab the Toilet Training Toolkit here.
Remember, setting up your space for success is the most important part!
Visuals are an important part of every special education classroom. To learn more about important must have visuals, click here.