Toilet training for children & young people with disabilities

Toilet training for children & young people with disabilities

Toilet training can be a stressful time. Parents can feel pressured into getting their child out of nappies in time for the start of playgroup or school. It is important however to begin toilet training only when your child is developmentally ready. Children with developmental delay will generally take longer to learn a toileting routine.

Due to the intimacy of toileting tasks, the aim of toileting training is to encourage and enable children to be independent so that as they get older they can have as much privacy as possible.

To learn a toileting routine, your child must be able to:

  • Understand the sensations in their bladder.

  • Be able to communicate their needs.

As your child moves towards independence, they will need to be able to:

  • Move and transfer on to and off of the toilet or potty.

  • Manage their clothing.

Consider the following for children with special needs:

  • Non-verbal children will need an easily recognisable way to communicate their need to use the toilet.

  • Extra time will be required to remove a child from their supportive equipment (e.g. a standing frame or wheelchair), remove their clothing and then transfer them on to the toilet equipment.

  • If the only toilet is upstairs it may be more practical to have alternative facilities downstairs for ready access and use.

Advice last checked: 30 January 2018 Next check due: 30 January 2021

All advice is either supported by references (cited in the text) or is based upon peer reviewed professional opinion. Our advice is impartial and not influenced by sponsors or product suppliers listed on the site.
Conflict of interest statement


  1. Disabled Living Foundation 2014  Choosing children's daily living equipment
    View reference   Last visited:  13/08/2012 Evidence type: 2