Children with special needs may have a physical disability, intellectual disability or developmental delay, and their ability to achieve bladder and bowel control during both the day and night may be delayed. Unless your child has a urological cause for their wetting, it’s likely that they will have the potential to achieve some degree of continence. It is best that you discuss your child’s situation with your local doctor, specialist or nurse continence advisor to get some advice on what treatments are best for you and your child.
If a child with special needs achieved day dryness at a later time than the average age of 3 years, then it’s likely that their night time dryness will also be delayed. They’ll need the same patience, encouragement and support in their efforts for dryness as they would with any other developmental task they strive to achieve. Most of the other information provided here on the DryNites website will also be useful for you.
Parents of children with special needs face so many challenges every day, bedwetting being just one of them. DryNites® Pyjama Pants is a useful resource that can be used at night until your child has achieved dryness. DryNites Pants are discreet and highly absorbent, they will increase the comfort of the child at night and decrease the workload of the parents and other carers until the child is ready for treatment for night wetting or they can be used while they are receiving treatment.
Sonya, mother of Ben, says, “Managing the evening ritual of getting 3 kids into bed is struggle enough, especially with Ben, 9, having Down Syndrome. We’ve made the decision that a good night’s sleep for Ben is much more important than us being able to tick the box that he’s dry at night. So we use absorbent night time pants (DryNites® Pyjama Pants) to ensure that he can sleep throughout the night and wake up comfortable without wet sheets and PJs. It saves my sanity somewhat as well not having to deal with the additional stress of being woken in the night and facing additional laundry everyday. One day when the whole family is up to it we’ll consider trialing other treatments, but in the mean time we’ll keep using DryNites.”
Read more stories from parents of special needs kids about their experience with bedwetting.
The information presented below has been written in conjunction with Charmaine Bryant, Clinical Nurse Consultant – Continence Advisor.
Achieving Bladder Control
The age range for development of bladder and bowel control in kids without special needs is 1.8 to 4 years of age for day control and 2 to 5 years of age for night control.
For children with special needs, bladder and bowel control skills are developed at different ages – just like other childhood skills such as learning to walk, talk or be independent in feeding. Just as kids need practice to walk and talk they also require practice to be dry and will have accidents to begin with. Day dryness is developed before night dryness and achieving bladder and bowel control can be both a challenging and rewarding time for the child and parents.
Achieving bladder and bowel control are important skills in children with special needs. It leads to increased independence and the ability to socialise. It may also decrease the stress and workload of the parents or other carers.
Bladder Control Skills
Let’s look at the skills required for achieving bladder control during the day as this occurs before they can be dry at night. Your child is able to:
- indicate the need to go to the toilet – feels sensation in bladder.
- “hang on” for a short time to enable them to get to the toilet.
- find the toilet and knows what it is.
- get to the toilet independently.
- pull down their clothes and underpants.
- sit on the toilet – with stool and toilet seat insert so they feel safe.
- do a wee.
- wipe themselves – this is a difficult task and often the last skill to be acquired.
- get off the toilet independently.
- pull up their underpants and clothes.
- flush the toilet.
- wash and dry their hands.
Once your child demonstrates these bladder control skills during the day, you can start working towards night time dryness.
There are government schemes in Australia to assist parents of children with special needs to purchase continence aids, as they may need to use disposable absorbent underwear like DryNites, for a longer time. If you are seeking more advice and support, visit our Expert Answers page for more information.
For information in Australia, contact the Continence Foundation of Australia on Freephone 1 800 3300 66.