If your special needs child isn’t experiencing a medical reason for incontinence (infection, blockage, neurological impairment) then you might be facing one of these three common roadblocks to total training success:
- Your child has limited or incomplete interoceptive awareness. What is interoception? It is the ability to sense and interpret internal cues. The distention of the bladder, the fullness of the colon, etc are all internal cues that should send them to the potty. Unfortunately, just as poor proprioception can hinder a child’s ability to move smoothly, poor interception can result in potty accidents, among other things. Working with them to become more aware of those feelings can include monitoring their intake and elimination routines. You will know when they should have more sensory input, and can educate them about what that means. Listen to how they describe internal feelings. Kids don’t always know the right words, so use their words or give them a new vocabulary to help them communicate.
- Your child’s clothing is difficult to manage, or their dressing skills aren’t up to the task. They run out of time before nature calls. Tops that are hard to roll up, pants that have tricky fasteners, even fabrics that are hard to grasp and manipulate. All of these can make it a few seconds too long once they get into the bathroom. If you are not in there with them, you may have to ask them to do a “dry run” so you can see what is going on and what you can change to make undressing faster. In my e-book, The Practical Guide To Toilet Training Your Child With Low Muscle Tone, I teach parents the best ways to teach dressing skills and the easiest clothing choices for training and beyond. If you have ever had to “go” while in a formal gown or a holiday costume, you know how clothing choices can make it a huge challenge to using the toilet!
- Your child is too far from the bathroom when they get the “urge”. Children with mobility problems or planning problems may not think that they are in trouble right away. They might be able to get to the bathroom in time in their own home. When they are out in public or at school, the distance they have to cover can be significant, and barriers such as stairs or elevators can be an issue. Even kids playing outside in their own yards might not be able to come inside in time. If you can’t alter where they are, teach them to use the potty before they go outside or when they are near the bathroom, instead of waiting. Taking the time to empty a half-full bladder is better than an accident.
Looking for more information on toilet training? Read How To Teach Your Child To Wipe “Back There” and Low Tone and Toilet Training: Learning to Hold It In Long Enough to Make It to The Potty. and of course, my e-book is available for more extensive assistance The Practical Guide to Toilet Training Your Child With Low Muscle Tone: Potty Training Help Has Arrived!