Due to the fact that children with an ASD have difficulty understanding social norms and rules and find change difficult to accept, it is not uncommon for children with ASDs to be toilet trained later than their peers, and often with some difficulty. They may prefer the sensory experience of a full nappy, or become anxious at the thought of a completely new routine.
The Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA) makes it unlawful to discriminate, without justification, against disabled pupils and prospective pupils in every aspect of school life.
All nursery provision is covered by this Act. Autism is considered to be a disability in accordance with the DDA, and therefore, nurseries should not refuse admission to children with ASDs because they have not been toilet trained, as if they have not been toilet trained because of their ASD, there is a link between the reason the child has been refused admission to the nursery and their disability, which could be seen as ‘less favourable’ treatment and an unlawful breach of the DDA.
However, in some cases, such as when a nursery has a blanket policy regarding toilet training, the discrimination may have no link with the child’s disability, and it is therefore unlikely that this is unlawful discrimination
For further advice on toilet training visit www.autism.org.uk/a-z or contact Rachel Stevens on 020 8234 3128.