Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Science in Occupational Therapy


Occupational Therapy

Project Chairperson

Renee Watling

Second Advisor

George Tomlin


toilet training, potty training, pediatrics, autism spectrum disorder, developmental delay, behavior disorder, intellectual diability, sensory processing disorder, occupational therapy ADL


This research project was conducted in collaboration with Paige Kensil, OTR/L and Erica Petru, OTR/L at Little Fin Therapies. Through discussion with Paige and Erica, we determined that there was a need to examine the effectiveness of various toilet training interventions for children with disabilities. Therefore, a systematic review of the literature was conducted on strategies and interventions for toilet training focused on promoting independence of children between the ages of 2-18 years old with disabilities. The literature review yielded a total of 20 research articles published in peer-reviewed journals. Ten toileting interventions were examined in these articles for children with disabilities, including children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), intellectual or developmental disability (IDD), developmental delay, and sensory processing disorder (SPD). Ten toileting interventions were identified in the research, including video modeling, rapid toilet training, sit schedules or timed toileting, reinforcement, technology-based, visual prompts, behavioral modification, urine alarm, underwear or pad removal, and sensory integration. Results indicated that toilet training is not a one-size-fits-all approach. However, the ten identified interventions did show significant improvements in independence in toilet training. Our knowledge translation product included development of a toilet training guide for pediatric therapists and caregivers containing information and resources for nine of the ten identified toileting interventions. The interventions included in the guide are evidence-based and supported by research. Occupational therapy practitioners have a unique role in toilet training and should collaborate with parents and caregivers when creating an individualized toilet training program based on a client's specific needs. There is a need for increased outcome research on toilet training interventions for children with disabilities.

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