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


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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Correspondence to Michael A. Cocchiola Jr.

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Many thanks to the parents who willingly agreed to include their children in this study. They remain anonymous to ensure the confidentiality of the children, though their cooperation is deeply appreciated. Also, we are indeed grateful to the special education teachers, ABA therapists and the school district, all of who worked as dedicated staff to meet the needs of the children and provide empirical evidence to forward to the scientific and educational community at large.

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Cocchiola, M.A., Martino, G.M., Dwyer, L.J. et al. Toilet Training Children With Autism and Developmental Delays: An Effective Program for School Settings. Behav Analysis Practice 5, 60–64 (2012).

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  • autism
  • paraprofessional staff
  • school setting
  • toilet training