Saturday, April 14, 2012

Book Review: Ready, Set, Potty! by Brenda Batts

Ready, Set, Potty! Toilet Training for Children with Autism and Other Developmental Disorders by Brenda Batts. Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2010, 144 pages, $17.95 US.

Jacob has recently become quite adept and quite insistent on withholding his bowel movements, which eventually turned into bad experiences for everyone. Will this solve the problem?

Brief overview of content:

Ready, Set, Potty! begins with an explanation of the importance of potty training--it means independence for those with developmental disorders. The key is to create an individualized program that will teach the necessary skills and achieve the desired outcome. The program needs to be well structured with order, predictability, and routine. These components are especially important for training children with autism and similar disorders. Order provides clarity of instruction. Predictability molds expectations and outcomes. Routine creates consistency in action, allowing the learner to walk through the same steps to achieve the desired outcome.

The heart of the book is the seventeen-step process to achieve potty success. None of the steps is complicated but the number is daunting. But the issue is also very important and very worth the effort. Several principles make this program successful. The motivators (to remain on the potty) and rewards (for success at being trained) are tailored to the individual child. The child is often referred to as "more like us adults than they are different," so the parent can realize that there isn't some mysterious method that will succeed. Children's communication is often non-verbal. Adapting the training method is accomplished by using picture books and simple charts or visual guides on what to do. Practical experience is emphasized throughout and many examples are used (including from what the author did for her son Alex).

Each chapter ends with tips for parents, teachers, and caregivers. The chapters also have some questions to help the reader personalize the information presented. Pages 118 to 122 have a handy checklist for all the steps of the program. With this in hand, the reader can know that they are fully prepared to start the Ready, Set, Potty! program.

Author overview:

Blurb from the back cover: Brenda Batts is a behavior consultant, and the mother of two sons: Alex, an 18-year-old teen with autism, and Douglas (JR), a typical, 21-year-old college student. She is owner and director of Focus on the Future Training Center, a private school for students with autism and other related developmental disorders. Brenda holds a BS Degree in Special Education, and a Masters of Education with specialization in Exceptional Student Education. Through her workshops and presentations as a national and international speaker in the field of special needs, coupled with her own personal journey as a parent of a teen with autism, Brenda is committed to helping special needs students achieve independence. She resides in Plano, Texas.


1. Read cover to cover vs. consult as needed.

Her potty training system builds up from all its different parts, so the reader should definitely read the whole thing and maybe come back later to consult as needed for specific steps or challenges.

2. Readability.

The language is not very technical and is quite accessible for any reader. The book reinforces its messages in several places (order, predictability, and routine are almost a mantra for the book). The book is also very positive and upbeat, often saying success is the only option with a well-crafted potty training plan.

3. Helpful to a parent?

This system is rather daunting in its details but if you are having a challenge with your child (whether they have a developmental disability or not) it helps to anticipate every problematic aspect that may occur during potty training.

4. Did we use it?

We read it while we were on a trip to the United States thanks to the Howard County Public Library. We may use certain components of it, though that is entirely against what the book tells us. Jacob has been reluctant to do #2 in the potty. We did have an appointment with a local pediatrician who prescribed some mild laxatives. They've actually been quite successful at getting Jacob to poop comfortably and regularly in the potty. He doesn't have it fully down but at least he is no longer dead set against trying. We hope to report more progress in the future (though you, dear reader, probably hope not to hear about it!).

Sample text

On the importance of individualized training:
Keeping your child's individual differences under consideration requires us, as parents and teachers, to gain knowledge of our children's unique styles of learning, their unique manner in which they process information, and their likes and dislikes, in order to design an individualized program that will lead our child to independence in potty training, and ultimately to success. One of the most important aspects of a potty training program is to ensure that the program you use is one that has as its core foundation order, predictability, and routine. These components must exist in order to achieve success; without these components, children with developmental disorders are limited in their ability to properly process information given to them. [pp. 123-124]

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