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Q&A: Meltdowns in the Restroom?


You spoke at some length during a seminar I took with you in Connecticut about your experience toilet training children with sensory processing issues. I have a fifth-grade student on the autism spectrum that allows her paras to change her in her workspace but has a complete, intense breakdowns any time they attempt to take her to the bathroom.  As I am typing this, it occurs to me that I do not know what her home behavior is like. I am a colleague of the SLP that is her actual case manager and told her I knew you may have resources, so I’m a little less informed than she is.

I poked around your website briefly and didn’t find anything right away that might apply.  Would you please point me in the right direction for resources about difficult toilet training? Anything, including courses, webinars, articles, or anything else would be gladly welcomed.

Thank you for all of the great work that you do!


Here is a link to my view-on-demand webinar about toilet training:

Toilet Training From a Sensory Perspective

However, with an intense reaction like that about the bathroom, it does make me wonder if something else is going on. It could just be that she wants to avoid toilet training, but it’s also possible that she has experienced some sort of trauma, either inappropriate toilet training methods or possible abuse.

I would suggest starting by making trips into the bathroom that don’t include toileting. Maybe go into the bathroom to blow bubbles, finger paint, or a highly preferred activity of some kind. Depending on her cognitive level, maybe a social story would be helpful to let her know what is going to happen in the bathroom and make sure she understands she will not be asked to use the toilet. Once the bathroom becomes a happier place in her mind, then you may be able to proceed with toilet training. Even then, I would probably start with having her sit fully clothed on the toilet for 30 seconds and progress slowly from there.

I hope that helps! Please let me know if I can be of further assistance.

Best Wishes,