Monday, June 1, 2009

Paper Doll Potty Training

Paper doll potty training is an idea for helping children use public bathrooms. Many children with autism refuse to use public bathrooms. Some will only use bathrooms at home, not at school or even at grandma's house. There can be a variety of reasons for this but one possibility is that it just seems to scary or strange to use a different bathrooms. You can use a paper doll image of your child to help him or her get used to the idea of going on a different toilet.

I often create a paper doll with a child's face on the doll in order to help the child think about doing new things. In this case, make a paper doll of your child and laminate it (or put clear contact paper on the doll). You don't have to be graphic but make this particular doll without clothing--just cut the doll shape out of a vanilla colored manila folder if your child is pale like me or a darker color if your child has darker skin. Glue on an appropriate sized picture of your child's face. Cut out pants and shirt and shoes and laminate these. Attach to the paper doll with velcro. Now you have a paper doll version of your child to use for paper doll demonstrations.

Take this doll with you whenever you and your child go to public places and include the doll in your activities as though he or she were a real person. Look at the doll when you talk. Pretend the doll talks back to you. Andydoll is hungry. Here Andydoll, here is a French Fry. At some point, using your most dramatic voice say something like Uh Oh! Andydoll has to go potty. We better take him. He really needs to go! We will be right back. Don't eat all the French Fries!

Now, when you take Andydoll to the bathroom, assuming your child will go with you, do everything with Andydoll that you would do if your child had to use the toilet. Take Andydolls pants off. Stand him up or sit him down--whatever you want your child to learn to do. When Andydoll is done, help him wash his hands and don't just praise Andydoll, talk about how much better he feels. Wow! Andydoll feels much better now. You could even reward Andydoll, but wait to do this until after you have modeled Andydoll going potty in a few different places. Your child needs time to think about this possibility more than he or she needs a bribe. If you do use a reward, make sure that you don't give the reward to Andytherealguy unless Andytherealguy also uses the public toilet. Andydoll will share the new helicopter with you when you go potty in a different place. Pretty soon, you will be brave and go potty in a different toilet. The new helicopter is just for being brave.

It only makes sense to model this way if your child recognizes pictures of him or herself. Use a language level appropriate to your child's ability to comprehend what you are saying.


Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

Dear Tahirih, My god!!! Im so glad i came across your site. your games are so simple and easy to put to practice without going out there and buying anything!! Im a mother of a 4 1/2 yr old PDD NOS boy. We live in mumbai, India. I have a sincere request.. Is it possible to be in touch with you re my son. I would really really appreciate your inputs. Also, we're probably going to be in the US end of the year or beg next year. Is it possible to meet with you? My email id is thank you so much for autism games.. Warm regards, archana.