Potty Training for Children With Sensory Issues

by Shaunta Alburger

    Sensory issues can make toilet training extra difficult. If your kid is sensitive to the feeling of sitting on a toilet or the sounds using a toilet makes, there are steps you can take to make her transition away from diapers easier on both of you.

    For a child with sensory issues, sitting on the edge of a big gaping hole may be daunting. Try using a seat that attaches to the regular toilet, or a child-sized seat. Feeling safe will help your child get comfortable with using a toilet. If you're adapting the regular toilet, get a footstool to help your kid get himself onto it. Be patient and try a variety of toilet options until you find one that your sensitive child can tolerate.

    Some children with sensory issues have trouble with the sensation of wet versus dry. The sensation of feeling wet when using a toilet can be a problem for these kids. Let them practice with water in the bathtub. Start with a dry tub and a big bowl of water and a cup. Let your child pour water over her skin to desensitize herself to the feeling.

    Tight, close-fitting underwear might feel too similar to a diaper for a child with sensory issues. Try loose-fitting shorts or letting your child go bare bottom at home during potty training. Having a completely different feeling might make it easier for your child to remember to use the toilet when she isn't wearing a diaper. Try setting a special pair or two of shorts aside as "potty pants."

    If your child is anxious about using the toilet for sensory reasons, the actual act of eliminating may become more difficult and uncomfortable. Make sure he has plenty of fiber in his diet to help combat that problem. If your child has auditory issues, putting some toilet paper in the toilet before he sits will absorb the sound of urine splashing. If the noise of flushing is part of the problem, let your child practice when he's not actually using the toilet so he can get used to it.

    About the Author

    Shaunta Alburger has been a professional writer for over 10 years. She's worked on staff at both major Las Vegas newspapers, as well as a rural Nevada weekly. She has also published short stories at Liquid Silver Books and Pink Petal Books. Alburger is pursuing a B.F.A. in creative writing from Goddard College.

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