Toilet Training for Individuals with Autism and Disabilities – A Focused Approach

Toilet Training for Individuals with Autism and Disabilities – A Focused Approach

Introducing our Intensive Programme for Toilet Training

Our Intensive Programmes are interdisciplinary intervention packages, delivered in our purpose-built centre in Pembrokeshire. Typically lasting 5 days, they involve detailed assessment and therapy delivery, as well as training for the family and any team members. There are a variety of intensive packages available, one of the most popular being our Toilet Training Programme, (aka Toilet Training Bootcamp) which aims to develop independent toileting for individuals with autism and disabilities.

I’m Natalie, a BCBA and one of the consultants at Skybound Therapies. Recently, my colleague Rhian and I conducted an intensive week of toilet training at our Therapy Centre. As we were preparing the family by discussing what they could expect during the week, it occurred to us that it may be useful to share this information with a wider audience.

Why Do Our Clients Choose To Do Toilet Training As An Intensive?

Many parents choose our intensive approach to toilet training because it provides a dedicated timeframe for mastering this essential, but tricky, skill. Unlike tackling toilet training amidst the chaos of daily life, our intensive programme offers a week of unwavering support and real-time adjustments to the plan based on data analysis. We are constantly collecting data and measuring success leaving families to concentrate on other aspects of the programme.

During an intensive week, we conduct a comprehensive assessment and develop customised plans to address specific toileting challenges. For many of our learners, toilet training is more than just learning to “wee on the toilet.” It involves overcoming issues like nappy dependency, fluid intake management, and transitioning to the toilet effectively.

Another area which I personally have found to be crucial to the success of a toilet training intensive is that we provide invaluable moral support to parents and families. Often toilet training has already been tried and been unsuccessful, so parents and clients may be feeling understandably nervous about starting the process again. This is where I feel that the additional support from our team to guide everyone through the process makes a big difference. We understand the apprehension that can come with restarting the toilet training process, and our team is here to guide you every step of the way.

Rapid Progress. It is amazing how much we are able to achieve within a week and we often find that we have been able to move through the stages of a toileting plan fairly quickly due to the consistency achieved as part of an intensive approach.

Toilet training during an intensive is far from the ‘easy option’, as we all work hard during the week to achieve the goal. However, I feel that it is such an important skill for our clients to learn and the long-term pay off of them being able to use the toilet for the rest of their lives is more than worth all of the data, changes of clothes (for clients and ourselves!) and hours spent watching for signs that the client might need to wee.

What To Expect From A Toilet Training Intensive:

Assessment and an Individualised Programme:  We conduct a thorough assessment considering the client’s toilet training history and current behaviours around toileting. We then take data such as current frequency of urination and drinking. Following this we analyse the data and information, trial procedures based on the outcome of this analysis, take more data, conduct more analysis of data and we continuously adjust procedures where required. This ongoing process ensures that the toileting procedures we recommend are fully tailored and unique to each client.

Laundry Preparation: Accidents are a part of the learning process. We recommend bringing lots of spare clothing, including varied options of underwear and outerwear so that we can try out what works best for the client. To make things easier, we now have a washing machine onsite thanks to our recent centre expansion.

Step-by-Step Guidance: We break toilet training down into the following distinct steps, with more steps added as required for individual clients.

  1. Urinating in the toilet when taken to the toilet
  2. Taking self to toilet when feeling the urge
  3. Communication of needing to use the toilet
  4. Generalisation to other environments such as your home and bathrooms in the community
  5. Toilet training of both urine and faeces- this doesn’t always occur at the same time and some clients require additional medical intervention if they have additional factors such as constipation

Hydration: Increasing fluid intake motivates urination and provides more training opportunities. Therefore, we recommend bringing a variety of the client’s preferred drinks and ensuring that you bring plenty of them.

Fun and Reinforcement: We make toilet training enjoyable by using the child’s favourite items and activities as reinforcement. We recommend that these are brought to the centre. We are often looking to find additional ‘bonus’ items and activities so that toilet training can be as fun and motivating as possible for the client.

Additional Skills: The road to toilet training is not always straightforward and we need to teach complementary skills such as co-operation with transitioning to other rooms when asked, tolerating different aspects of toilet training and underwear, and having a drink when asked to do so. We expect that this is the case for most of our clients and we are ready to guide you through this as needed.

Data Collection: We meticulously record various aspects and measures of the toilet training process, including fluid intake, frequency of urination, preferred items and activities, preferred drinks and more. Ensuring a data-driven approach.

Parent Training: We provide guidance and support throughout the process, so that all parents are comfortable with the procedure required by the end of the intensive. At times we have worked with parents who have requested to be ‘hands off’ throughout the process due to their previous experiences with toileting, but we have worked together so that they are carrying out the procedures by the end of the week and can then continue this into their home environment.

Detailed Plan: Following the intensive, you will receive a summary report of the assessment and interventions carried out during the week, along with our ongoing recommendations.

Ongoing Support: We can follow-up with ongoing support for toilet training and other areas required, either in-person or via video calls. Recognising that your toilet training journey continues once you leave our centre.

In conclusion, our Intensive Toilet Training Programme at Skybound Therapies offers a focused and results-driven approach to help individuals with autism and disabilities achieve independence in toileting. Through our intensive programme, we aim to provide unwavering support, data-driven adjustments, and comprehensive guidance to both individuals and their families.

Our Intensive Programmes are available Monday to Friday, usually running from 9.30am to 3.30pm at our self-contained centre. The Therapy Centre is based on a family-owned farm in a discrete rural setting in Pembrokeshire, South West Wales. You can find out more about our Intensive Programmes here. If you believe our Toilet Training Programme could benefit your child and family, complete an enquiry form here to book a free initial consultation.

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