Autism and Potty Voodoo

In regards to potty training, Big C has actually had a fairly easy time mastering the toilet. I attribute it to his independent and strong-willed nature.  He wants to be more self-sufficient, so that means learning to use the toilet.

With that strong will comes a strong determination as to when he should and should not have to go.  Case in point, he hates going to the bathroom when he first wakes up, even though he often wakes up with dry Pull-Ups.  Even though I know he has to go.  It’s a battle nearly every morning.  He throws a fit.  His anger escalates from 0 to 100 in seconds.  I’m lucky my husband bears the brunt of it as he takes the “morning shift” since he often works late.  After the battle of wills, Big C always goes potty, but his ego, battered and bruised, refuses to admit it was a good idea.

I give you this back story so you can fully appreciate what I tell you next because it’s nothing short of miraculous.

If you’ve been following my blog, you know that Big C is my three year-old little guy diagnosed with ASD.  If you read my most recent post, you also know I’m a teacher, and as we all know, summer is almost here.  While I’m quite excited, I’m also quite nervous because any disruption in Big C’s schedule causes stress for him which causes stress for the entire family, and this summer will mean some large changes in his routine.

To help him cope with this and maintain consistency, I’ve gotten some help with the support staff at his school to set up a visual schedule.  I’ll provide more details in a later post (because I’ve already fallen in love with it and have so much more to say).  Basically though, it’s like a day planner, only it’s made up of little pictures and velcro so Big C can move the activity pictures from the left strip of velcro to the right strip of velcro once he’s ready to do the next activity.  The activities are lined up chronologically from top to bottom, and he has to follow that order.  The concept is that by knowing what’s coming next, anxiety will be alleviated and a sense of control will be gained.

I decided to start using the visual schedule this past Sunday.  I was told they had one at school and that he would be familiar with it.  I was nervous though, because at the very top of the schedule was the “Go Potty” card.  I debated leaving it off completely just to avoid the meltdown, but I reminded myself the entire point of this was to reduce the meltdown.

Tentatively, at 6:00 am, I handed the laminated, yellow file folder to my early riser.  He immediately smiled brightly and knowingly.  I asked him, “What’s the first thing we need to do today?”

“Go potty!” he shouted triumphantly, and then he ran and went potty.

Well, I’ll be damned.  He won’t listen to me, but he’ll follow the directive of a 1 x 1 picture of a toilet.

I thought to myself, it’s a fluke.  I need to play this out.

No issues the entire day.

Then, this evening, when I told Big C he could out for a bike ride with Daddy Catharsis, he consulted his schedule, unprompted, and said, “Wait.  I have to go potty first.”

Voodoo, I tell you.  Voodoo.


photo (20)
The Magical Potty Card




Published by Miranda Keskes

I am a freelance writer, editor, and tutor with fifteen years of high school teaching experience. Helping young adults craft their unique writer's voice is one of my passions. As the mother of a child with autism, I also feel compelled to share our story, connect with fellow parents, and raise awareness for a diagnosis that is still quite misunderstood. Learn more at my business site,, and my personal blog,

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