IEP Toilet Training
I am wildly passionate about kids being toilet trained if it is a possibility. I never dreamed I would be a passionate advocate for toilet training. But, here I am. Lack of toileting skills is one functional IEP skill that really carries a serious stigma for our kids. It’s very ostracizing for an older child when they lack independent toilet skills.
It is one of the ways we can help our kids maintain dignity. Nothing makes you the target of bullying faster than a bathroom accident.
However, making that happen is often a different story. Read further for tips on getting toileting or potty training added to your IEP. Then at the bottom, I have included a sample toilet training schedule or protocol. It’s downloadable so you can print it and adapt it to your disabled child’s needs.
Let’s start at the beginning.
Toilet Training IEP Goals
First, yes, schools can add toilet training to an IEP. There is no “we don’t do that here.” IDEA and case law has been very clear that IEPs are not just for academics. Functional skills are to be included in an IEP if a child lacks the skill(s).
Sample IEP Goals for Toilet Training
These are just some examples of IEP goals for toileting. As always, when writing an IEP goal, it must meet the SMART goal criteria. And, of course these will vary based upon the child’s skills or lack thereof.
You have to have a good foundation before moving on. As in, you cannot put a goal of “student will remain dry for X hours” if the child is not even communicating the need. I see a lot of IEPs with “staying dry” listed as the goal. Of course, that is the ultimate goal, but with many kids, you can’t just jump right to that.
- Student will sit on the toilet for X seconds every two hours without resistance.
- With X level of prompt, Student will
- Student will use (mode of communication) to request….
- Student will cooperate with specific toileting protocol….
- When Student is told “Let’s go to the bathroom,” he/she will….
- Student will void successfully on the toilet…
Those are just some sample tasks that relate to toileting. Think of the basic foundation steps toward toilet training, and put them in the goal formula.
Excluded from an IEP placement because they are not toilet trained.
This is related but also common to the problem of having an older child who is not yet toilet trained. Many schools and preschools have rules such as “Must be toilet trained to attend.” Can they do that? Well, it depends. Each situation is different.
Private schools and private preschools are generally not bound to IDEA, so they can establish these rules. Public schools that are bound to IDEA cannot. If it is a placement that was decided upon by the IEP team, then no, they cannot.
Think of it this way: Essentially the child is not toilet trained (at a later age than usual) due to their disability. Thus, excluding them from that school would be excluding them based upon their disability. But, some schools are allowed to do this, such as privates and charters.
Toileting and Aides/Paraprofessionals
If the (public school’s) reason is merely that they are not staffed to do it, that is not a valid reason. I understand that many union contracts prohibit teachers from entering restrooms with students, or assisting them with toileting. However, then the child needs a PCA or 1:1 to assist them with this. If the child otherwise belongs in gen ed for most of their day in order to obtain LRE, the school cannot choose a more restrictive placement based on one issue (toileting).
It can get complicated, so feel free to join our Facebook group if you have specific questions.
Adding Toilet Training to an IEP.
I was told that’s not an IEP item. It is. Case law has supported adaptive living skills on an IEP over and over and over. So, just handle it like you would any other concern. Ask them to show you where it says in IDEA or the state regs that potty training should not be part of an IEP. (They’ll be looking for a really long time) Remember, there is no “We don’t do that here.”
How to add Toileting or Potty Training to your IEP.
- Write a letter to your child’s IEP team. Describe the problem. Include the consequences and repercussions of what is happening as a result of your child not being toilet trained.
- Ask the team to meet. State that you wish to discuss toilet training goals and protocols.
- Include success stories! What has worked at home? Are there signs of readiness that you see in your child? Be solution-oriented in your request.
- All along the way, document, document, document.
- After the meeting, write a short note that summarizes what the team agreed to do. Add in that you expect to see this information on a PWN and proceed accordingly.
Toilet Training in Public School
Just a few things to keep in mind as you proceed.
- Use age-appropriate language. “Potty” is the word when you’re 3 or 4, not 13 or 14.
- Be consistent. Make sure protocol is being followed at home and at school.
- Use literal language if your child needs it. There are a zillion euphemisms for all things toileting, right? Don’t use them if it will further confuse your child. Pick one word and be consistent.
- Think outside the box. Maybe your child needs a photograph of your actual bathroom, not a PECS diagram. Maybe they need a 3D object such as a pull-up.
- Don’t get discouraged. Our kids take a long time to learn things. If you get frustrated, take a break and revisit it in a few months.
- Be aware of signs of readiness.
- Some kids just aren’t going to be toilet trained for a really long time. I have a friend whose son was finally trained at age 20. But it happened, and that’s what matters.
Toileting Protocol for School
Don’t overthink it. I often think that a lot of an IEP team’s trepidation about doing something like this is that they think it’s going to be a ton of work. It doesn’t have to be. This particular protocol was intense because that is what the child needed. But you can also just use natural breaks in the day like snack times, lunch and moving to different areas.
And, here is a social story about toileting. Pretty basic, but all I could find.
I have another whole post with dozens of Visual Schedules for Daily Routines. You may find something in there since toileting is a part of our daily routine!
As with anything in the IEP, follow the process: Request in writing, meet, follow up with PWN.
Good luck and keep us posted!