Running header: Toilet Training for Children with Autism
Toilet Training for Children with Autism: The Effects of Video Modeling
Karen L. Brannigan
School of Education, University of Queensland
Address correspondence to Associate Professor Deb Keen, School of Education and
Professional Studies, Griffith University, Brisbane, Queensland 4111, Australia.
Toilet Training for Children with Autism 2
This study assessed the effectiveness of an animated toilet training video for teaching
daytime urinary control to five young boys with autism across several settings. A between
groups multiple baseline across groups design was used following a 2-week baseline-
monitoring period. Children in the treatment condition received video modeling plus operant
conditioning strategies, whereas children in the control condition received only operant
conditioning strategies. The frequency of in-toilet urinations was found to be greater for
children who watched the toileting video than for children who did not. Gains were
maintained for 3 participants at a 6-week follow-up with generalization to a new setting for
2 participants. The results indicate that, for young children with autism who are resistant to
toilet training, the acquisition of urinary control may be facilitated by the use of an animated
toileting video in conjunction with operant conditioning strategies.
Key words: autism, toilet training, video modeling
Toilet Training for Children with Autism 3
Toilet Training for Children with Autism: The Effects of Video Modeling
For typically developing children, daytime toileting skills are generally achieved
by 3-4 years of age (Blum, Taubman, & Nemeth, 2003; Butler, 1997; Schum, Kolb,
McAuliffe, Simms, Underhill, & Lewis, 2002). From the limited research available,
toileting skills acquisition appears to be delayed, and in some cases never achieved, by
individuals with autism (Ando, 1977; Dalrymple & Ruble, 1992; Tsai, Stewart, &
August, 1981; Whiteley, 2004; Williams, Oliver, Allard, & Sears, 2003). For example,
Tsai and colleagues collected data on 102 individuals with autism and reported that over
59% had not achieved bladder or bowel control by 3.5 years of age. This is a pressing
problem, as it can impact negatively on an individual’s personal hygiene, self-confidence,
physical comfort, stigma (Cicero & Pfadt, 2002), independence, social acceptance (Sells-
Love, Rinaldi, & McLaughlin, 2002), and caregiver burden of care.
Appropriate toileting refers to the accomplishment of various unprompted
behaviours including recognizing the need for toileting and waiting before eliminating.
Other behaviours such as undressing, sitting on the toilet, using toilet paper appropriately,
dressing, flushing the toilet, washing hands (Baker & Brightman, 1997), and not
eliminating in places other than the toilet/potty (Mahoney, Van Wagenen, & Meyerson,
1971) are also important toileting behaviours. The achievement of toileting skills is an
important developmental milestone for people with disabilities as it “allows individuals
to fully participate in community activities as well as to develop a sense of personal
responsibility and self confidence” (Cicero & Pfadt, 2002, p. 319). Given the current
philosophies and policies regarding the importance of inclusion of children with special
Toilet Training for Children with Autism 4
needs in regular schools (Dempsey, 2005), the achievement of appropriate toileting is
often a goal in educational settings.
Current approaches to toilet training for individuals with disabilities have drawn
heavily on operant conditioning principles, originally outlined by Ellis (1963). Ellis
developed procedures based on a stimulus-response, reinforcement framework that
included a baseline-monitoring period for establishing the time and frequency of a
person’s eliminations, and toilet visits based on that pattern of toileting. Modifications
and refinements to the original techniques used by Ellis followed. Certain techniques,
however, have remained fundamental to the majority of toilet training procedures
described in the literature. These techniques involve: baseline monitoring to identify
patterns of urination; toilet visits based on that pattern or a predetermined schedule;
increased fluid intake to increase frequency of urination and practice; use of prompts to
request toileting using pictures, language or signs; fading of prompts over time; and
reinforcement for appropriate toileting behaviors.
While these approaches have been successful for some individuals with
disabilities (Azrin, Bugle, & O’Brien, 1971; Lancioni & Markus, 1999; Richmond, 1983;
Sells-Love et al., 2002; Wilder et al., 1997), toilet training for some individuals with
autism and intellectual disability has been particularly difficult in terms of both effort and
length of time required. For example, Dalrymple and Ruble (1992) reported that
individuals with both autism and severe to profound intellectual disability required about
3 years of training to achieve daytime bladder control compared to 1.2 years for
individuals with autism but without intellectual disability. Lower cognitive levels
predicted higher rates of regression in toileting after training for individuals with autism,
Toilet Training for Children with Autism 5
and individuals who lacked verbal skills took about 2.7 years to achieve bladder control
compared to 1 year for children with verbal skills.
Given the extent of the toileting difficulties for individuals diagnosed with autism,
there has been surprisingly little research with this population. Some early success was
reported by Ando (1977) using an approach based on the procedures of Azrin and Foxx
(1971) with five boys aged 6-9 years with autism and profound intellectual disability.
Appropriate urinations were reinforced and punishment such as verbal reprimands and
spanking was applied for inappropriate eliminations. Although training lead to a general
increase in self-initiated toileting skills, none of the boys were completely toilet trained at
post treatment. Furthermore, the use of punishment has, for some time now, been
considered inappropriate for ethical reasons.
A small number of studies have reported some success in toilet training for
children with an autistic spectrum disorder, however, these studies have generally lacked
information about important participant characteristics such as cognitive and receptive
language skills, have had small participant numbers, or lacked detail about training
procedures and outcome measures. For example, Luiselli (1997) taught daytime urinary
control at school to an 8-year-old boy with a diagnosis of Pervasive Developmental
Disorder. Scheduled in-toilet urination was achieved and maintained at 6 month follow
up, however self-initiated toileting was not reported. Other researchers have reported
encouraging results but have had small participant numbers and have not always reported
the cognitive or language abilities of the participants (Cicero & Pfadt, 2002; Post &
It has been argued that teaching procedures may need to be modified for children
with autism in order to address their particular needs (Shipley-Benamou, Lutzker, &
Toilet Training for Children with Autism 6
Taubman, 2002). Current toilet training procedures may not be optimal for this group of
individuals. Children with autism tend to have a relative strength in the visuospatial area
(Quill, 1997) and video modeling has been considered an effective treatment approach
because it minimizes attentional and language demands and requires the child only to
look at a small spatial area (Sherer et al., 2001). This approach has been used effectively
to teach a range of skills to individuals with autism (Charlop-Christy & Daneshvar, 2003;
Charlop-Christy, Le, & Freeman, 2000; D’Ateno, Mangiapanello, & Taylor, 2003;
Schreibman, Whalen, & Stahmer, 2000; Shipley-Benamou et al., 2002). Only one study
was found that used video modeling to teach toileting to a child with autism. In this
study, a 3-year-old boy with autism learned to walk to the toilet but did not learn to
urinate in the toilet (Bainbridge & Myles, 1999). The behaviour of walking to the toilet
increased when the boy was prompted after he watched the video and decreased when the
video was omitted.
The aim of this study was to assess the effectiveness of visual materials (i.e., a
toilet training video) in conjunction with operant conditioning strategies for developing
toileting skills in young children with autism across several settings. The study used a
between groups multiple baseline across groups design. It was hypothesized that video
modeling + operant conditioning strategies would be a more effective method than
operant conditioning strategies alone.
The participants were five boys aged from 4 years 5 months to 6 years 9 months
(mean age of 5 years 2 months) and a diagnosis of autism from a paediatrician. All
participants wet their underwear or urinated in inappropriate places on two or more
Toilet Training for Children with Autism 7
occasions per day, despite past attempts at toilet training. None of the boys had ever gone
to the toilet alone and without prompting. For descriptive purposes, all participants were
assessed using a number of measures. The children’s educational program consisted of
attendance at a kindergarten, special education unit, preschool, or a combination of these.
Two of the children (John and Allen) were on medication for anxiety.
The Scales of Independent Behavior (SIB-R; Bruininks, Woodcock, Weatherman,
& Hill, 1996) is an individually administered, norm referenced test with good
psychometric properties, which assesses adaptive functioning, and the frequency and
severity of problem behaviours. Age equivalents are provided for each subtest, and
subtests are combined into adaptive behaviour clusters. Available scores included
standard scores, percentile ranks and adaptive behaviour skill levels.
The Gilliam Autism Rating Scale (GARS; Gilliam, 1995) is a norm-referenced
checklist, which is used for screening autism and is based on the Diagnostic and
Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-1V; American Psychiatric
Association, 1994). The test is completed by caregivers and subtest standard scores are
converted into an Autism Quotient, which has a mean of 100 and a standard deviation of
15. Percentiles are also able to be established. The Autism Quotient provides a measure
of the probability and severity of autism, which is rated from “very low” to “very high”.
The test has good psychometric properties.
The Differential Abilities Scale (DAS; Elliott, 1990) is an individually
administered, norm-referenced battery of 17 cognitive and 3 achievement tests for
children and adolescents aged 2.5 - 17 years. The test has good psychometric properties
(Sattler, 2001). Raw scores are converted to an ability score, a percentile rank and a T
Toilet Training for Children with Autism 8
score with a mean of 50 and a standard deviation of 10. Abilities are rated from “very
low” to “very high”.Several attempts were made to assess the children using the
nonverbal subtests without success, with the exception of the Picture Similarities Subtest.
<INSERT TABLE 1 ABOUT HERE>
The results from the standardized assessments showed that all 5 children scored
well below their same age peers in most adaptive behaviors, particularly in personal
living, social interaction, communication, and toileting (see Table 1). They were also
significantly delayed in cognitive development, scoring at or below the 16th percentile on
the Picture Similarities subtest of the DAS. Their autism severity rating was average for
all the boys except Allen (a pseudonym), who scored in the ‘low’ range.All children
Participants were recruited from multiple sources that included participants from a
previous university research study, 14 special education units, a special school for
children with autism, and by posting information about the study on the University of
Queensland’s website. Written information was provided and the details about the project
explained to parents and teachers, and written consent was obtained.
A between groups multiple baseline across groups design was used to evaluate the
effectiveness of the toilet training video in multiple settings after a 2-week baseline-
monitoring period. Although multiple baseline research designs often include three or
more clients/systems in order to demonstrate treatment effectiveness, two clients/systems
are considered appropriate (Kazdin, 1982; Richards, Taylor, Ramasamy, & Richards,
1999; Thyer, Artelt & Shek, 2003). This study proceeded with two groups as described
Toilet Training for Children with Autism 9
Children within groups were matched according to age, gender, and toileting
skills using their scores on the SIB-R, and they were randomly assigned to either a
treatment or control condition. Children in the treatment condition received video
modeling plus operant conditioning strategies, whereas children in the control condition
initially received only operant conditioning strategies. Children in the control condition
were introduced to the video once in-toilet urinations commenced for the child in the
treatment condition. Allen (treatment condition) and John (control condition) began
training while the remaining children continued with baseline monitoring. Once the
toileting status of Allen improved, a second pair comprising David (treatment condition)
and Tim (control condition) began training. Edward was allocated to a treatment
condition and began toilet training at the same time as David and Tim, as there was no
available matched control. For ethical reasons, participants in the control condition were
given the toileting video to watch once the toileting status of the child in the treatment
condition made some improvement, even if the new behavior had not stabilized.
Maintenance and generalization to a new setting were assessed at 6 weeks post training.
Setting and Materials
Baseline monitoring, intervention, and post treatment evaluations were
undertaken in home and educational settings for each child. All training took place during
the day between 7 am and 6 pm, 7 days per week, by the child’s parents and teachers. All
carers had access to a 30-min timer, a video player and television, recording sheets, and a
6 min animated toilet training video. The toilet training video was developed by the
Intellectual Disability Services Council in South Australia in association with Minda
Incorporated (2001). It shows the sequence of toileting steps required by both males and
females in a simple and logical order, and animated characters provide simple verbal
Toilet Training for Children with Autism 10
instructions. The video makes use of colour, sound, music and interesting and friendly
characters such as a green frog, and praise is given for appropriate toileting. A set of A4
picture cue cards accompanies the video.
Baseline monitoring. Data were collected on the child’s frequency of prompted or
unprompted daily in-toilet urinations between 7am and 6pm in home and educational
setting(s) over two weeks by caregivers. During this time, children remained in nappies
and were given free access to fluids in order to match the training condition. They were not
prompted to use the toilet during this period and no toilet training occurred. Carers checked
the child’s nappy every 30 min and recorded the required information on monitoring
sheets. A regular yet individualized schedule of toilet visits was established for each child
after assessing his pattern of toileting during baseline.
Selection of rewards (reinforcement). Parents completed a reinforcement schedule
and, in order to determine the relative motivating strength of individual reinforcers,
procedures established by Frost and Bondy (2002) were followed. For example, parents
presented a choice of items to their child and then observed their child’s reaction. They
took note of which items were chosen first, how their child reacted when items were
presented and taken away, and what happened when items were presented again. Carers
were also given instructions about the selection and delivery of rewards. For example,
rewards were restricted to toilet training times and needed to be given immediately after a
The toilet training procedures were explained to caregivers (i.e., parents and
teachers) just prior to the commencement of toilet training, and all caregivers received
written toilet training procedures and instructions. Caregivers were asked to select the
minimum level of prompting required for the completion of the toileting steps. The
Toilet Training for Children with Autism 11
second author contacted all caregivers at least once per week to check on progress and to
monitor treatment compliance.
Intervention. During intervention, children were given free access to a range of
fluids in order to increase the frequency of urination and practice. On average, toilet
training occurred six to seven times per day for each child, according to the schedule
established during baseline. Children in the treatment condition were required to watch a
6 min animated video of toileting on each occasion prior to toilet use. Children in both
conditions were prompted to request toileting using pictures, language or signs.
Reinforcement was given initially for any and all of the following: walking to the toilet,
undressing, sitting on the toilet, eliminating in the toilet, redressing, flushing the toilet,
and hand washing. Promises of rewards for appropriate eliminations in the toilet were
also given. Children were required to sit on the toilet for 3 min. If the child did nothing
on the toilet after this time, carers were advised to tell the child that they did not have to
“wee” or “poo”, and to provide no other attention. If the child was unable to sit for 3 min,
carers were advised to encourage the child to sit back on the toilet. For accidents that had
already occurred, carers were advised to say “You’re wet” in a flat tone, and to prompt
the child to change his pants. Carers were advised to check the child’s pants every 30 min
and to record the required information on monitoring sheets. This was done in order to
assess the child’s pattern of toileting and whether his toileting schedule needed
adjustment. An asterisk was used to indicate whether the eliminations occurred without
prompting. If the children indicated that they needed to use the toilet or if they began to
urinate away from the toilet, carers were advised to say “no, no, hurry, wee in the toilet”
and to take the child quickly to the toilet. Once at the toilet, carers were required to
Toilet Training for Children with Autism 12
The frequency of in-toilet urinations per day during baseline, intervention and
follow-up for all five children is presented in Figure 1. There were zero in-toilet
urinations for all participants during baseline. The three children in the treatment group
(Allen, David, and Edward) had 4, 11 and 14 in-toilet urinations respectively during the
treatment/control period and for two of the children (David and Edward) some of these
urinations were unprompted (see Figure 2). The two children in the control condition
(John and Tim) had zero and two in-toilet urinations respectively during the
treatment/control period. Given the unique responses of the children to the training
approaches, a more detailed description of the results for each child is presented below.
<INSERT FIGURES 1 AND 2 ABOUT HERE>
Allen (treatment condition). Allen had four in-toilet urinations during the
treatment/control period, the first occurring 25 days after toilet training commenced. By
day 50 he displayed a lack of interest in watching the video and his mother and one
teacher withdrew from the study. Data were then only received from one school setting
on two consecutive days per week. Although he had from one to two in-toilet urinations
per day in that setting until day 124, the results for Allen were not maintained at follow-
up. Some changes occurred in Allen’s life from day 124 onwards. For example, he had a
new carer at school and, during the follow-up period, he became ill and ceased taking
John (control condition). John had zero in-toilet urinations during the
treatment/control period. The video was introduced on day 51 and John’sfirst in-toilet
urination occurred 28 days after this. By day 101 he displayed a lack of interest in
watching the video and began to protest about toilet training. It was hypothesized that
Toilet Training for Children with Autism 13
privacy at the toilet may have been an issue for John as he often hid under the bed to
urinate, he used particular gestures to indicate that he wanted to be left alone at the toilet,
and he had urinated in the toilet alone and without prompting on days 78 and 82. In order
to provide greater privacy, his mother remained out of sight when he sat on the toilet.
Picture cue cards from the video were also placed in conspicuous places at home, in order
to redirect the child from places where inappropriate urinations occurred. Correct in-toilet
urinations began on day102 and he urinated in the toilet in a new setting on day 110.
However, his pattern of correct in-toilet urinations was inconsistent during intervention.
By follow-up he had achieved two in-toilet urinations in one day and his mother stated
that she was able to redirect him to the toilet once an inappropriate elimination
David (treatment condition). David had 11 in-toilet urinations during the
treatment/control period. Although he protested initially when taken to the toilet, his first
in-toilet urination occurred 3 days after toilet training commenced. As it had been for
John, privacy at the toilet may have been an issue for David as he often urinated in
outdoor settings or in his bedroom when others were not present. Subsequently, from day
83, the changes made to John’s training were introduced for David. In-toilet urinations
began on day 84. Shortly after this, he self-initiated toileting, and urinary control
generalized to an unfamiliar setting (e.g., a community bathroom). As he had lost interest
in watching the video at this time, the video was discontinued. However, his toileting
skills regressed at the commencement of the school holidays on day 107. The toilet
training procedures plus the changes described above were reintroduced on day 118 with
subsequent gains that were maintained at follow-up.
Toilet Training for Children with Autism 14
Tim (control condition).Tim had two in-toilet urinations during the
treatment/control period. Although the video was introduced on day 89, he had not
achieved another in-toilet urination by follow-up. His mother withdrew from the study on
day 105 and all data points from that time onwards refer to one school setting only.
Edward (treatment condition). Edward had 14 in-toilet urinations during the
treatment/control period and his first in-toilet urination occurred one day after the
commencement of toilet training. Even though he protested when taken to the toilet, he
achieved from 0-2 in-toilet urinations per day at home up to day 76. As with John and
David, privacy at the toilet may have inhibited Edward’s use of the toilet as he often
urinated in outdoor settings when others were not present and the same changes that were
made for John and David were implemented for Edward on day 106. The frequency of
in-toilet urinations increased from that point onwards and the results were maintained at
follow-up. At school, Edward often protested about going to the toilet, and he often
urinated before reaching the toilet. In an attempt to address this issue, he watched the
video while sitting on the toilet from day 73 onwards. However, no in-toilet urinations
occurred in that setting by follow-up.
The results from this study suggest that video modeling in conjunction with
operant conditioning techniques may enhance the achievement of daytime urinary skills
among young children with autism when compared to operant conditioning techniques
alone. During the treatment/control condition, the frequency of in-toilet urinations was
greater for children who watched a toileting video than for children who did not.
Furthermore, participants in the treatment condition achieved a more consistent pattern of
Toilet Training for Children with Autism 15
in-toilet urinations than participants in the control condition. At follow-up, gains were
maintained for the three children that had received training across several settings (John,
David and Edward) and for two of these children, toileting behavior generalized to a new
setting. For the other two children (Allen and Tim), training ceased at home after the
treatment/control condition although they continued to receive toilet training at school.
Reduced opportunities for practice may have impacted on the acquisition of toileting
skills by follow-up for these children and may have helped to account for the
disappointing results for Tim.
The results are consistent with the view that children with autism may be assisted
in their learning when information is presented visually (Biederman et al., 1999; Charlop-
Christy et al., 2000; D’Ateno et al., 2003; Houlihan et al., 1995; Shipley-Benamou et al.,
2002). The application of video modeling for teaching toileting skills to this population
has not been previously tested, and the results from the current study suggest that, for
young children with autism, the development of toileting skills may be facilitated by the
use of an animated toileting video in conjunction with operant conditioning principles.
The use of video modeling plus the use of picture cue cards may have been
effective in the current study because they minimized the need for oral instructions
among a group of children who were non-verbal. However, video modeling was not
necessary for the achievement of some toileting skills. For example, one participant in the
control condition learned to pull up his pants, flush the toilet, and wash his hands
independently during the treatment/control period. This is consistent with previous
studies that demonstrated the effectiveness of operant conditioning principles for toilet
training children with disabilities (Cicero & Pfadt, 2002; Post & Kirkpatrick, 2004).
Toilet Training for Children with Autism 16
Although the operant conditioning principles used in this study were similar to
those used in other studies for toilet training individuals with autism, the outcomes for
children in this study were more modest. For example, in the Cicero and Pfadt (2002)
study three children with autism requested the use of the toilet, urinated appropriately in
the toilet, and had zero urinary accidents after 18-20 days of toilet training. However,
children in the current study had not reached zero urinary accidents by follow-up. Several
factors may account for differences. Cicero and Pfadt conducted their study in the school
bathroom for the entire day where inappropriate eliminations could be prevented by
rushing participants to a nearby toilet. Toilet training in bathrooms was not undertaken in
the present study for ethical and practical reasons. For example, it was felt that other
important learning tasks would need to be put on hold for an unspecified amount of time
while training occurred in the bathroom, and extra staff time would be needed. However,
this created access problems, as toilets were generally located at some distance from the
child’s main daily activities. Also, it is not known if the participants in the Cicero and
Pfadt (2002) study and the present study had similar cognitive and verbal profiles. This is
an important consideration as cognitive and verbal skills are associated with the
achievement of toileting skills among individuals with autism (Dalrymple & Ruble,
1992). Participants in the current study achieved low scores on tests of cognitive
functioning and language comprehension, and they were also highly resistant to toilet
Responses of individual children to the toilet training procedures used in this
study emphasize the complexities of toilet training for children with autism. For some of
the children, the intervention period prior to achieving the first in-toilet urination was
greater than previously reported (e.g., 25 days for Allen, 28 days for John after
Toilet Training for Children with Autism 17
introduction of the video). In contrast, David achieved his first in-toilet urination after 3
days and Edward after only 1 day. Given the small number of participants it is difficult to
draw conclusions about the specific factors or child characteristics that may have led to
these different outcomes.
One interesting finding from this study was the impact of picture cue cards and
privacy on toileting behavior. For 3 participants (John, David and Edward), the frequency
of in-toilet urinations increased when the child was afforded greater privacy when sitting
on the toilet, and when picture cue cards were used to redirect the child away from areas
where inappropriate urinations were occurring. While these intervention techniques were
not the focus of this research, they suggest a promising avenue for further investigation.
During the course of the study it was not possible to control for all variables, and
there were some confounding factors. Due to the length of the study, change was
inevitable, and it is important to note that children with autism often regress when
changes to routines are introduced (Dalrymple & Ruble, 1992). Factors such as illness,
changes in carers, and changes in medication are likely to have impacted on the
acquisition of toileting skills for the children concerned. From a clinical perspective,
however, it is important to recognize that these factors may arise for families, and to
consider how families can be supported during these periods of change or disruption.
At the conclusion of this study, none of the children were completely toilet
trained. However, parents who participated in the study until follow-up reported benefits
from their participation in addition to increased toilet use by their children. For example,
when compared to previous attempts at toilet training, they felt that their children had
progressed well. Redirection to the toilet at the commencement of an inappropriate
urination was occurring at follow-up, fewer nappies were being used, and some of the
Toilet Training for Children with Autism 18
skills learnt from the toileting program generalized to other activities for some children
(e.g., dressing and undressing for swimming).
All caregivers found the toileting procedures very resource intensive and stressful.
Access to toilets was difficult in most settings and carers stated that their motivation
wavered at times due to the length of time required to achieve the first in-toilet urination.
Carers felt that patience, persistence, consistency across settings, access to a support
person with whom they could problem solve, as well as privacy and relaxation for the
child were important factors in toilet training. They felt it would be helpful if carers were
made aware that children’s toileting skills may regressfollowing changes of routine and
that the training period may be extensive.
This study has identified a number of factors that may be important in the
acquisition and maintenance of toileting including video modeling, operant conditioning
techniques, settings in which the training occurs, privacy, and frequency of toilet visits.
For example, gains were noticed for one participant (David) when the frequency of
training at home was reduced to once a day, with the number of toilet visits increasing
when an in-toilet urination was achieved at this time. Further research into the variables
that may affect the acquisition of toileting skills and ways to provide more effective toilet
training to children with autism are needed.
Toilet Training for Children with Autism 19
Toilet Training for Children with Autism 20
American Psychiatric Association. (1994). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental
disorders (4th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.
Ando, H. (1977). Training autistic children to urinate in the toilet through operant
Conditioning techniques. Journal of Autism and Childhood Schizophrenia, 7,
Azrin, N. H., Bugle, C., & O’Brien, F. (1971). Behavioral engineering: Two
apparatuses for toilet training retarded children. Journal of Applied Behavior
Analysis, 4, 249-253.
Azrin, N. H., & Foxx, R. M. (1971). A rapid method of toilet training the
institutionalized retarded. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 4, 89-99.
Bainbridge, N., & Myles, B. S. (1999). The use of priming to introduce toilet training to
a child with autism. Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, 14,
Baker, B. L., & Brightman, A. J. (1997). Steps to independence: Teaching everyday
skills to children with special needs (3rd Ed.). Baltimore: Paul H. Brookes
Biederman, G. B., Stepaniuk, S., Davey, V. A., Raven, K., & Ahn, D. (1999).
Observational learning in children with Down Syndrome and developmental
delays: The effect of presentation speed in videotaped modeling. Down
Syndrome Research and Practice, 6, 12-18.
Blum, N. J., Taubman, B., & Nemeth, N. (2003). Relationship between age at initiation
of toilet training and duration of training: A prospective study. Pediatrics, 111,
Toilet Training for Children with Autism 21
Bruininks, R. H., Woodcock, R. W., Weatherman, R. F., & Hill, B. K. (1996). Scales of
Independent Behavior-Revised. Chicago: Riverside.
Butler, R. J. (1997). Elimination disorders. In C. A. Essau & F. Petermann (Eds.),
Developmental psychopathology: Epidemiology, diagnostics and treatment (pp.
447-471). Australia: Harwood Academic Publishers.
Charlop-Christy, M. H., & Daneshvar, S. (2003). Using video modeling to teach
perspective taking to children with autism. Journal of Positive Behavior
Interventions, 5, 12-21.
Charlop-Christy, M. H., Le, L., & Freeman, K. A. (2000). A comparison of video
modeling with in vivo modeling for teaching children with autism. Journal of
Autism and Developmental Disorders, 30, 537-552.
Cicero, F. R., & Pfadt. A. (2002). Investigation of a reinforcement-based toilet training
procedure for children with autism. Research in Developmental Disabilities,
Dalrymple, N. J., & Ruble, L. A. (1992). Toilet training and behaviors of people with
autism: Parent views. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 22, 265-
D’Ateno, P., Mangiapanello, K., & Taylor, B. A. (2003). Using video modeling to teach
complex play sequences to a preschooler with autism. Journal of Positive
Behavior Interventions, 5, 5-11.
Dempsey, I. (2005). Legislation, policies and inclusive practices. In P. Foreman (Ed.),
Inclusion in action (pp. 35-65). Southbank, Victoria: Thomson.
Elliott, C. D. (1990). DAS administration and scoring manual. San Antonio: The
Toilet Training for Children with Autism 22
Ellis, N. R. (1963). Toilet training the severely defective patient: An S-R reinforcement
analysis. American Journal of Mental Deficiency, 68, 98-103.
Frost, L., & Bondy, A. (2002). The Picture Exchange Communication System training
manual. (2nd ed.). Newark, DE: Pyramid Educational Products, Inc.
Gilliam, J. E. (1995). Gilliam Autism Rating Scale (GARS). Austin, TX: Pro-Ed.
Houlihan, D., Miltenberger, R. G., Trench, B., Larson, M., Larson, S., & Vincent, J.
(1995). A videotape peer/self modeling program to increase community
involvement. Child & Family Behavior Therapy, 17, 1-11.
Intellectual Disability Services Council & Minda Incorporated. (2001). Are you ready: A
toilet training package for people with intellectual disability. Adelaide, SA: Catalyst
Marketing & Communications.
Kazdin, A. E. (1982). Single-case research designs: Methods for clinical and applied
settings. New York: Oxford University Press.
Lancioni, G. E., & Markus, S. (1999). Urine-triggered alarm signals and prompts to
promote daytime urinary continence in a boy with severe intellectual disability.
Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy, 27, 261-265.
Luiselli, J. K. (1997). Teaching toilet skills in a public school setting to a child with
pervasive developmental disorder. Journal of Behavioral Therapy and
Experimental Psychiatry, 28, 163-168.
Mahoney, K., Van Wagenen, R. K., & Meyerson, L. (1971). Toilet training of normal
and retarded children. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 4, 173-181.
Post, A. R., & Kirkpatrick, M. A. (2004). Toilet training for a young boy with
pervasive developmental disorder. Behavioral Interventions, 19, 45-50.
Quill, K. A. (1997). Instructional considerations for young children with autism: The
Toilet Training for Children with Autism 23
rationale for visually cued instruction. Journal of Autism and Developmental
Richards, S. B., Taylor, R. L., Ramasamy, R., & Richards, R. Y. (1999). Single subject
research: Applications in educational and clinical settings. San Diego: Singular
Richmond, G. (1983). Shaping bladder and bowel continence in developmentally
retarded preschool children. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders,
Sattler, J. (2001). Assessment of children: cognitive applications (4th ed.). San Diego:
Jerome M. Sattler.
Sells-Love, D., Rinaldi, L M., & McLaughlin, T. F. (2002). Toilet training an
adolescent with severe mental retardation in the classroom: A case study.
Journal of Developmental and Physical Disabilities,14, 111-118.
Schreibman, L., Whalen, C., & Stahmer. A. C. (2000). The use of video priming to
reduce disruptive transition behavior in children with autism. Journal of Positive
Behavior Interventions, 2, 3-11.
Schum, T. R., Kolb, T. M., McAuliffe, T. L., Simms, M. D., Underhill, R. L., &
Lewis, M. (2002). Sequential acquisition of toilet training skills: A descriptive
study of gender and age differences in normal children. Pediatrics, 109, E48.
Sherer, M., Pierce, K. L., Paredes, S., Kisacky, K. L., Ingersoll, B., & Schreibman, L.
(2001). Enhancing conversation skills in children with autism via video
technology: Which is better, “self” or “other” as a model? Behavior Modification,
Shipley-Benamou, R., Lutzker, J. R., & Taubman, M. (2002). Teaching daily living
Toilet Training for Children with Autism 24
skills to children with autism through instructional video modeling. Journal of
Positive Behavior Interventions, 4, 165-175.
Thyer, B. A., Artelt, T. A., & Shek, D. T. L. (2003). Using single-system research
designs to evaluate practice: Potential applications for social work in Chinese
contexts. International Social Work, 46, 163-176.
Tsai, L., Stewart, M. A., & August, G. (1981). Implication of sex differences in the
familial transmission of infantile autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental
Disorders, 11, 165-173.
Whiteley, P. (2004). Developmental behavioural and somatic factors in pervasive
developmental disorders: Preliminary analysis. Child: Care, Health and
Development, 30, 5-11.
Wilder, D. A., Higbee, T. S., Williams, W. L., & Nachtwey, A. (1997). A simplified
method of toilet training adults in residential settings. Journal of Behavioral
Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, 28, 241-246.
Williams, G., Oliver, J. M., Allard, A., & Sears, L. (2003). Autism and associated
medical and familial factors: A case control study. Journal of Developmental
and Physical Disabilities, 15, 335-349.
Toilet Training for Children with Autism 25
Description of Participants
Allen John David Tim Edward
Age (Year:Month) 4:7 4:5 4:9 4:7 6:9
Percentile 5 16 Invalid 12 1DAS
T Score 34 40 Invalid 38 23
Language (Year:Month) 3:10 2:0 1:3 2:0 2:0
Toileting (Year:Month) 1:9 1:11 2:0 1:6 2:3
Dressing (Year:Month) 4:10 3:5 2:4 2:9 2:6
Motor (Percentile) 89 93 <1 6 <1
11 <1 <1 <1 <1
13 1 <1 <1 <1
GARS (Severity) Low Average Average Average Average
Toilet Training for Children with Autism 26
Figure 1. Daily frequency of in-toilet urinations across pairs of participants at baseline,
intervention, and follow-up.
Figure 2. Frequency of prompted and unprompted in-toilet urination during the
Toilet Training for Children with Autism 27
Pair 1: Allen (Treatment) and John
Frequency of In-Toilet
Pair 2: David (Treatment) and Tim
Frequency of In-Toilet
Frequency of In-Toilet