Friday, November 14, 2014

Toilet training a child with sensory difficulties

Toilet training a child with Sensory Integration Dysfunction can prove to be frustrating to both parent and child.  A child with SID may not feel the urge to “go” as typical children do.  It may take additional time to toilet train a child with SID and the child may show readiness signs at an older age than their typically developing peers.  It is important that parents realize that toileting training a child with SID may be frustrating and challenging and understand that it may also be frustrating and challenging for their child.  Here are some toilet training strategies and tips to assist in toilet training a child with SID:

-Be sure that your child is ready to start toilet training.  Remember, a child with SID may not be ready at the same age as typically developing peers.  Is your child noticing when his/her diaper is dirty?  Does she let you know, either verbally or by her actions, that she needs to “go”?  Is she bothered by dirty diapers?

1-   Plan a fun night to go choose underwear.  Allow your child to pick her underwear.  Make a big deal about how she is becoming a big girl and can now wear underwear.

2-     Before actually putting your child on the toilet, look around the room where the toilet is to determine if there are things in the room that may hinder your child’s success.  If your child gets overwhelmed by clutter, de-clutter the room.  If your child is bothered by smells, try to mask any odors in the room.  If bright lights are an issue, put in lower watt bulbs, etc..  The idea is to make the room as friendly as possible for your child.

3-      Create a “Potty Time Basket” for your child that you will place beside the toilet.  Include things such as books, toilet paper, wipes, reward stickers (or whatever you choose to be a reward). 

4-      You can make toilet training “fun” for your child by adding food coloring to the toilet and telling your child to see what color the water changes to after she pees in it.  For boys, add “targets” to aim at such as Cheerios.

5-      If your child is Pee trained, but not trained for Poop, have her participate in you dumping her poop from her diaper into the toilet and flushing it down.  Tell her that poop goes in the toilet.

6-      Avoid punishing your child for “accidents” during the toilet training process.  Give encouragement and praise when she does get to the toilet.

7-      Allow your child to help pick out a potty chair or seat.  Having a potty seat can make the toilet less intimidating and scary and may decrease fears of falling into the toilet.  Potty chairs can be place anywhere in the house to make toileting convenient for your child.  If your only toilet is on a different floor than your child typically is, perhaps a potty chair would be right for you.

Occupational Therapists can assist in the toilet training process by offering advice and strategies, if needed.  Parents of children with SDI can use many of the same strategies for toilet training that they use with their typically developing children, but it is important to remember that the process may need to be altered to accommodate for the needs of the child with SDI and that the process may take much longer than it would with another child.  Make the process as stress-free as possible and allow your child to toilet train at their own pace.

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