As a parent of a child that falls on the autism spectrum, you’re already facing some unique challenges related to social interaction, sensory issues, behavior, and more. Additionally, children with autism are more likely to experience incontinence that lasts well past potty-training age, making everything a bit messier, figuratively and literally. However, there are a few simple ways to manage the added stress while keeping your child comfortable, dry, and sanitary.
Incontinence is simply the involuntary control of urinary loss or defecation. Children may experience leaks, accidentally void the bladder, wet the bed, and more.
When it comes to autism and incontinence, children may have learning disabilities that delay toilet training, physical disabilities that prevent them from reaching the toilet in time, or the inability to communicate the need to go.
In some cases, incontinence can be treated and children are able to potty train successfully. But in other cases, the symptoms can only be managed. Your child may have a few sensory issues to overcome in the bathroom or a physical disability that prevents bladder control.
That’s why it’s crucial to work with your child’s pediatrician to determine the cause and to put a treatment plan together for your child’s individual needs.
Stressors With Incontinence
Incontinence isn’t really discussed very often due to the stigma attached. It’s embarrassing to have accidents. Not only do children want to avoid letting others know, but so do the parents. This often leads to anxiety and an attempt to hide the issue instead of seeking help and learning proper management techniques.
For example, if you explain your child’s condition to their teachers, they’ll be prepared and able to help during the school day by:
- Reminding your child to take bathroom breaks
- Allowing your child to go to the restroom when needed
- Letting your child sit near the restroom
- Developing private code words for needing to use the restroom or accidents
- Assisting with cleanups and changing if an accident occurs
- Helping keep the condition under wraps
Another stressor with incontinence includes becoming depressed and withdrawn. Your child may not want to participate in social activities such as field trips and sleepovers.