Let’s be honest… Potty training is the worst. Full Stop.


Not just for parents raising atypical children, but even for parents raising typical children.

For those who don’t know, potty training an atypical kid is a nightmare. Imagine that you have a child who can’t sit still, has sensory issues and can’t tell when they need to go to the bathroom: then imagine trying to get them to sit still on a hard surface, for a long period of time, in a noisy room (when the air vent is on) and trying to get them to understand that their pee and poop goes in the potty.

Potty training Jackson was next to impossible. When I started trying he was non-verbal, very hyper, and wasn’t capable of dressing and undressing himself.  I tried several times but I couldn’t do it alone. I didn’t know how to get him to connect the dots. Then came my saviors.

A slot opened up at SARRC for Jackson to receive 1:1 ABA training. When they asked what I wanted to work on first I didn’t hesitate: POTTY TRAINING.

They were very sweet and scheduled a potty party right away. This meant that we would spend 3 days in the bathroom. In order to prepare for this I had to make sure that I had something that would motivate Jackson to drink tons of water, I would have to have toys, or books that would keep him motivated to sit on the potty for a long period of time, and  a strong reinforcer to give him when he actually goes to the bathroom.

I found a water bottle with a wide straw, which he loved to drink out of, and gathered a ton of books and toys that he liked to play with. The pièce de résistance was the iPAD. When he had success peeing or pooping in the potty he got his iPAD for his time off the potty.

This type of training banks on getting a high degree of successful eliminations by having the child literally sit on the potty for a long period of time. For each successful elimination they get high praise, their strong reinforcer and they get to get off the potty. Here’s how it works.

The first interval was 30 minutes on and then 3 minutes off the potty. If he peed during the 30 minutes on then he was allowed to go off the potty for 3 minutes and it was allowed to get the iPAD. If he didn’t pee within the 30 minutes he was still given time off the potty, but no iPAD. Once he peed on the potty 3 times successfully without any accidents off the potty then we got to change to the next interval.

The intervals look like this:







With Jackson when he got to the last intervial- day 3- he was starting to initiate and would run to the potty when he could tell he had to go. And that was that. It wasn’t beautiful or perfect immediately after but it was far better and Jackson truly connected the dots.

This week we started the potty party with Maria and she is finally starting to catch on.

Soon we will be a diaper free house and I can’t tell you how ecstatic I am about that!

If you want to give this method a try please download the excel spreadsheet at the end of blog and feel free to share your potty training techniques and experiences.