Toilet Training Children With Autism and Developmental Delays: An Effective Program for School Settings

Toilet Training

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Authors: Michael A. Cocchiola, Jr., Gayle M. Martino,Lisa J. Dwyer, and  Kelly Demezzo


Current research literature on toilet training for children with autism or developmental delays focuses on smaller case studies, typically with concentrated clinical support. Limited research exists to support an effective school-based program to teach toileting skills implemented by public school staff. We describe an intervention program to toilet train 5 children with autism or developmental delays who demonstrated no prior success in the home or school setting. Intervention focused on (a) removal of diapers during school hours, (b) scheduled time intervals for bathroom visits, (c) a maximum of 3 min sitting on the toilet, (d) reinforcers delivered immediately contingent on urination in the toilet, and (e) gradually increased time intervals between bathroom visits as each participant met mastery during the preceding, shorter time interval. The program was effective across all 5 cases in a community-based elementary school. Paraprofessional staff implemented the program with minimal clinical oversight.

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