Toilet training and behaviors of people with autism: Parent views

  • Nancy J. Dalrymple
  • Lisa A. Ruble


Individuals with autism often present with toileting problems, yet there is little information about the nature of these problems. This investigation surveyed 100 parents of people with autism of a mean age of 19.5 years. Results indicated that lower cognition and lower verbal levels were significantly correlated with age of accomplishment of bowel and urine training; some subjects were not trained at the time of the study. The average duration of urine training was 1.6 years, bowel training 2.1 years. On the average, training started more than 21/2 years before the average age of diagnosis of autism. Fifty-six percent of the sample had to be taught to self-initiate, 42% were taught to ask to use the toilet, and 49% were taught using a schedule. Reinforcement was used by 78% of the parents of males and by 100% of the parents of females. Punishment, primarily scolding was used by 37% of the parents. The most common problems reported were urinating in places other than the toilet, constipation, stuffing up toilets, continually flushing, or smearing feces. More fears related to toileting were noted for verbal subjects.


Constipation Average Duration Lower Verbal Level Lower Cognition Toilet Training 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nancy J. Dalrymple
    • 1
  • Lisa A. Ruble
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute for the Study of Developmental Disabilities, Indiana Resource Center for AutismIndiana UniversityUSA

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