Toileting can be one of the most emotive and stressful phases of parenting. Try to be relaxed about it – as with all other areas of children’s development, there is a huge variation in the age at which children with Down syndrome achieve independent toileting and a similar range in the length of time, effort and energy that has to be put in by parents to achieve it. And there is no single fail-safe way in which to do this, although everyone has met people who know that their way is the definitive way! Try to ignore any pressure you may feel from others, focus on your child and his or her stage of development and progress. Gather all the information you can and use it to help you consider what may work for your child and your family. The resources listed below should provide you with a good basis from which to start and the links will help you access additional help if you feel you need this. Talk to parents of children of similar age or slightly older to compare notes about what has worked and what has not for other people.
The Continence Support Service (CSS) aims to promote, restore and maintain continence in children and young people with a disability through the provision of clinical assessment, intervention planning and management support in relation to continence issues. The service also provides a subsidy for continence products. See their website for a list of metropolitan & rural CSS providers and assessment clinics.
Please also feel free to contact our Family Support Coordinator on 1300 658 873, if you need further assistance.
Publications marked with this symbol are available for DSV members to borrow from the DSV Resource Library.
Holroyd, Nancy Pressure to toilet train unnecessary
Written by a parent who adopted a child-led ‘toilet awareness’ approach and recounts the progress of her three children, one of whom has Down syndrome. Lots of useful advice and strategies.
Continence Foundation of Victoria (2000) One step at a time. Toilet training a child with an intellectual disability
Comprehensive and detailed reference guide, which, even if you don’t want to follow the suggested steps, will provide a wealth of useful information.
Rogers, June (2004) Talk about going to the toilet
Resource for both parent and child with step by step guidance through using the toilet accompanied by child-friendly drawings and simple text – the illustrations can be used to make your own book or create your own visuals for the bathroom. Great resource to start talking about using the toilet with your child.
Uncle Bobs Child Development Centre Toilet training
Summarised information from One Step at a Time with all the main information points, 4-step process and useful visuals.
Grace, Nancy (2006) Toilet training children with Down syndrome Pediatric News December 2006 p 40
Moreno, Kent (1996) Toilet training made semi-easy
Describes a protocol, which centres on the development of a toileting schedule, which has been used successfully with people with a developmental disability of all ages. The author is a behaviour analyst and father of a child with Down syndrome.
Baker, Bruce L & Alan J Brightman (2004) ‘Toilet training’ ch 10 in Steps to independence. Teaching everyday skills to children with special needs (4th ed) pp75-101
This chapter of this useful book gives a detailed and comprehensive overview of the whole toileting process as a systematic procedure. Lots of useful information.
Newman, Sarah (1999) Toilet training in Small steps forward ch 9 pp210-214
Brief overview of some of the more important considerations involved in deciding to toilet train.
Dodd, Susan (1994) Toileting in Managing problem behaviours pp 109-112 (at home) and 153-155 (at pre-school)
Mary White and June Rogers (2002) We can do it: helping children who have learning disabilities with bowel and bladder management: a guide for parents
'This is a very useful booklet for parents or carers who are looking for guidance in relation to toilet training their child who has a learning disability. It is informative and helps the parent tailor a program to suit the needs of their child.’
Sue Bettison (2010) Toilet training for children with autism or intellectual disabilities. Developmental information and practical procedures
This book, available online at the address below, offers a detailed reference and practical handbook including training procedures and recording tools for families who want to get to grips with the theory and practice of toilet training. The author maintains a website and blog also dealing with toilet training issues.
Other useful links
Raising Children Network
Good comprehensive information site which will answer many general questions about toilet training.
Victorian Continence Resource Centre - Great resouces incuding One step at a time and an easy english version of One Step at a Time
Continence Foundation Australia - Resources and children’s books to help
Tom’s toilet triumph DVD
This animated DVD won an international award as an educational film and is recommended by countless parents who have used it.
(Will shortly be available to borrow from DSV resource library.)
Are you ready? A toilet training package for people with intellectual disability Intellectual Disability Services Council (SA) and Minda Inc
‘A toilet training package for people with an intellectual disability that can be used by parents and carers to help children and young adults through the toileting process. The package is divided into four parts, firstly with an animated video called Tom's toilet triumph outlining the signs of wanting to go to the toilet and the toileting process. The second video discusses toilet training through the eyes of a mother of a teenager with intellectual disabilities and is designed to give parents, carers and teachers an idea of what to expect when toilet training. A step by step booklet and a set of cue cards taken from the animated video help reinforce the program.’
Toilet time parent packages: toilet training for young children with developmental delay Emily (for girls), Tom (for boys) (2004) Intellectual Disability Services Council (SA)
‘A toilet training package for girls/boys, that can be used by parents to encourage their child to use the toilet independently. A parent information manual offers practical strategies that can be used when toilet training a young child. In addition, cue cards and picture books going through the various stages of toileting help encourage the young child to independently go to the toilet.’
(Will shortly be available to borrow from DSV resource library.)
Jane Whelan Banks Liam goes poo in the toilet: A story about trouble with toilet training
Andrea Pinnington Big girls use the potty (with stickers) Doring Kindersley
Virginia Miller On your potty
Fred Ehrlich Does a pig flush?
Tony Ross I want my potty (little princess)
Alona Frankel Once upon a potty (boy) and Once upon a potty (girl)